Beat the Holiday Blues with the Help of In Home Care

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What are holiday blues?

The holidays are supposed to be a joyful time of good cheer, parties and family gatherings, but it is not unusual for many of us to feel sad, lonely or even anxious during the holidays. This condition, which has come to be called “holiday blues,” can occur with any holiday or vacation time. It commonly happens at the end of the year when it can seem that just about everyone is celebrating in some way, while those with the holiday blues feel pressured with the high expectations of the season.

Why are seniors susceptible?

“Many factors can contribute to feelings of sadness that seniors may feel around the holidays. The holidays can heighten feelings of grief and loss for seniors adjusting to changes related to the process of aging, such as life without a loved one or close friends, ill health, or a move from a lifelong family home into a retirement home or senior community. They may feel guilty about having feelings of sadness which may in turn intensify those feelings of sadness,” says Karen A. Briskie, RN, MSN, Director of THE MEDICAL TEAM’s Journey Behavioral Health Program.

How to manage the holiday blues?

The holiday blues can be a normal response to a stress-filled time of the year, but seniors don’t have to suffer unnecessarily. Mental Health America, a non-profit dedicated to helping Americans lead mentally healthier lives, offers the following tips for coping with stress:

  • Keep expectations for the holiday season manageable. Try to set realistic goals. Make a list and prioritize the important activities.
  • Remember the holiday season does not banish reasons for feeling sad or lonely; there is room for these feelings to be present, even if the person chooses not to express them.
  • Leave “yesteryear” in the past and look toward to the future. Life brings changes. Don’t set yourself up in comparing today with the “good ol’ days.”
  • Do something for someone else. Try volunteering some of your time to help others.
  • Enjoy activities that are free, such as taking a drive to look at holiday decorations.
  • Be aware that excessive drinking will only increase your feelings of depression.
  • Try something new. Celebrate the holidays in a new way.
  • Spend time with supportive and caring people. Reach out and make new friends, or contact someone you haven’t heard from in a while.
  • Find a family member, friend, member of the clergy, or a physician or professional counselor you can talk with who can help you through this difficult time.

When is it more serious than just the holiday blues?

While they may be intense and unsettling, holiday blues are usually short-lived, lasting for a few days to a few weeks prior to or just after the holiday. “However, it is important for family members, physicians and other caregivers to be alert to signs of something more serious than just seasonal sadness. Many elderly individuals may feel that depression is a natural part of aging and may not seek treatment on their own,” says Karen Briskie, RN, MSN.

Depression is a very real and serious disease that can be treated and managed, but can be life-threatening if left untreated. The signs of depression include: sadness that won’t lift; loss of interest or pleasure; changes in appetite and weight; thoughts of death or suicide. If you notice that a loved one seems depressed, encourage them to talk to their healthcare provider.

How can home care help?

If diagnosed with depression, elderly patients may respond more readily when receiving psychiatric care in the comfort of home, surrounded by their family and possessions. THE MEDICAL TEAM offers an in-home care program to assist patients, families and caregivers affected by depression and other behavioral health disorders to journey towards wholeness. Services include crisis stabilization, medication management, family interventions and long-term management. The program is based on established research outcomes and meets all Medicare standards.

Source: Mental Health America,

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