Helping Your Elderly Loved One Beat the Holiday Blues

Family walking together

The holidays can be difficult for anyone, but for seniors dealing with loss, loneliness, lack of mobility or poor health, it’s even tougher to get in the spirit of the season.

There are ways you can restore brightness to the season if your elderly family member is feeling a bit blue. You can make a real difference for your loved one, and as an added benefit, you’re guaranteed to feel a whole lot happier, healthier and more energized.

  • Set aside a few hours for a shopping adventure with your elderly loved one. Shopping can be exhausting, but with a bit of advance planning, it will be a joyful, memorable day for you both. If possible, plan your shopping excursion on a weekday when holiday crowds are light. Take plenty of breaks and keep the day fun and lighthearted. Allow time for a coffee break or leisurely lunch.
  • Lend a hand with chores or preparations for holiday get-togethers. If your loved one doesn’t have the energy to make that traditional pecan pie that everyone expects, join forces and let her serve as advisor while you do the work.
  • Tasks such as gift-wrapping, decorating or cookie-baking present a perfect opportunity for an older grandchild to spend some quality time with grandma or grandpa.
  • Encourage your elderly family member to talk about his feelings during the holidays. He may want to express his sadness about grief and loss, or he may want to take a trip down memory lane. It isn’t always necessary to offer answers or opinions, but it’s important to listen.
  • Be sure your elderly family member is comfortable and doesn’t become overtired amidst the hustle and bustle of holiday activities, as exhaustion can contribute to feelings of sadness. Allow time for naps or quiet time. Keep things fun but simple and stick to regular routines as much as possible.
  • Include your loved one in your holiday activities. Even seniors with physical limitations can help with planning, simple tasks, or craft projects such as stringing cranberries or making clove-studded oranges. Be patient if tasks take a little longer.
  • Provide transportation or encouragement if your elderly family member enjoys community, church or social activities. Volunteer activities provide a rewarding social outlet for seniors who are able.
  • Plan simple, enjoyable holiday activities. Seek out a safe downtown location for people-watching or take a leisurely drive to enjoy festive Christmas lights.