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For many of us, the holidays are filled with happiness, laughter and a calendar full of activities. It’s hard to imagine that this exciting time of year – “the most wonderful” as some call it – can bring some people sadness. But, it does. For instance, if someone lost a loved one during the season, the holidays can bring back unhappy memories. Sometimes, it’s not a specific event that brings negative associations, but just the holidays in general.

During this time of the year, many loved ones spend more time with their elders, but they are often surprised at what they see.

For some seniors, it’s common that they experience depressive symptoms during the holidays. The season can be a difficult time because older adults feel the passing of time and the many people that they have lost, such as parents, siblings and friends who have died.

The traditions that your loved one may have prided themselves on years ago may no longer be possible. There are new traditions being set by younger generations, and this can be hard to accept. Additionally, it’s common for children and grandchildren to move away or families to be separated due to divorce. This all adds stress to the holiday gatherings.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the other reasons why older adults may suffer from depression during the holidays:

  • Loss of independence

  • Financial limitations

  • Being alone or separated from family

  • Changing family dynamics

  • Changing family traditions

  • Loss of mobility

  • Unable to attend religious ceremonies

If you believe that your loved one may be depressed with the impending holiday season, don’t mistake it for being normal. The problem can spiral out of control and linger much longer than the holidays. Here are a few tips for beating the holiday blues in your elderly loved one:

  • Stay active. Plan additional activities to keep your loved one busy and prevent boredom or isolation.

  • Get them involved. Promote the holiday spirit by taking your loved one holiday shopping, inviting them to gatherings and singing Christmas carols. Try to arrange for a religious ceremony they can attend as well.

  • Reminisce about the past. Show your loved one that past traditions will never be forgotten. Watch old movies, look at holiday photos from the past and play classic Christmas music.

The holidays don’t last forever, but depression can. Your loved one may need a little bit of help this season to keep them out of the holiday slump and feeling more like themselves. If you feel that it may be depression, be sure to seek professional help immediately.