While Christmas is a time to celebrate and gather with friends and family, for many the holidays can be a difficult time. This is especially true for seniors, who may feel more acutely the passing of time, the distance of loved ones who have moved away, or the absence of deceased spouses, siblings and friends. And many seniors may not be able to cope with the dizzying activity of large family gatherings where children are running around the house or adults are talking in animated voices.
According to the Geriatic Mental Health Foundation, it is important not to deny or try to hide feelings of stress or sadness. Very often just being able to share your feelings with someone can help.
The Mayo Clinic advises seniors and their families and caregivers not to pressure themselves to make the holidays perfect or exactly like last year. The images seen on television of a loving extended family gathering around the tree is often a far cry from reality.
Stress and depression experts suggest setting aside expectations and trying new ways to embrace theÂ holidays:
- Start new traditions, such as inviting other seniors or neighbors to your home for a potluck, sing-along or game night.
- Plan an online celebration. If your family can’t travel during the holidays this year, set up a time for a party via computer, exchanging emails, photographs or talking by Skype and video.
- Learn to say no. If the screaming and running of little children fray your nerves, or if your family’s over-indulgence in alcohol makes you uncomfortable, let it be known how it affects you, and don’t feel bad about turning down invitations to parties or family gatherings.
- Reach out to others. You may feel lonely or isolated, but so do many others. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.
- Set goals for the new year. It’s never too late to do new things. Learn a foreign language, write your life story, plan a vacation or try cooking healthy recipes.
Remember, itâ€™s normal to feel anxious, stressed or depressed during the holidays. Doing something about it is the best medicine.