The holiday blues and your senior patients

Man experiencing the holiday blues

The most wonderful time of the year may not be so wonderful this holiday season for your older adult patients. There are several factors that lead to holiday-related depression.

Some possible causes include:

  • The loss of loved ones, which can be magnified during the holiday season.
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) - is a mood disorder that manifests during the winter when natural sunlight is decreased.
  • Post-holiday blues following the holidays. After seeing family and friends, individuals may struggle with loneliness and sadness after they’ve gone home.

Helping senior patients cope with the holiday blues

Discuss their feelings

Ask them how they’re feeling. They may not understand what’s causing these feelings or what’s making them to surface around the holidays. Talking about it may help them cope.

Encourage your patients to seek assistance from clergy or professional counselors if they need additional support.

Respect their feelings

If a patient is dealing with a loss, encourage them to focus on maintaining a tradition, such as attending a candlelight service or viewing a Christmas light display.

Help them grow

Suggest that your patients look for opportunities like volunteering, joining a social club, or going to a support group. Being active could help alleviate the feelings of depression and improve emotional well-being.

By talking with your patients about how they’re doing during the holiday season, it can help improve their well-being now and in the new year.

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