Having a blue Christmas?

It’s easy for people who have outlived many of the most important people in their lives to dwell on the fact that holiday celebrations will never be what they once were. In addition to the loss of loved ones, older people often suffer from the loss of independence, income and physical abilities. Many also feel that they are burdens to their children or spouses. All of these factors can contribute to a very blue Christmas.

Family caregivers can also set themselves up for depression when they add too many holiday activities to their regular routines. If they try to do all the things they did in the past for the holidays, they can quickly become stretched too thin and become physically and emotionally exhausted.

It’s important for them to be realistic about what they can do and protect their own health. Now would be a good time to call on all those who have offered to help.

Inviting close friends and relatives to visit can be a happy diversion for the family caregiver as well as the homebound relative. But instead of feeling that it’s necessary to provide a party, the family caregiver could plan a decorating party and ask the guests to bring food and trim the tree. 

It’s normal for most people to shed a sentimental tear during the holidays, but crying that becomes excessive or disabling can be a sign of major depression.

The Geriatric Mental Health Foundation website lists this and the following signs that may indicate the need to see a mental health professional: suicidal thoughts, an increased use of alcohol or pain killers, abnormal confusion or loss of concentration during family events and sudden self-imposed isolation.

For resources and help on these issues see: http://www.aginginfousa.com/geriatric_care_management. These specialists can help you navigate what route to take.

About Sue Salach

Sue has a Master's degree in Gerontology and has worked with the elderly and their families for over 30 years and is the Author of "Along Comes Grandpa", a caregiving resource guide, and the novel "If I Walked in Her Shoes". As an ElderCare Expert and Keynote Speaker, Sue employs her comprehensive experience and passion, to educate and promote self-care values to family caregivers and the community at large.
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