For many, the holidays are the happiest time of the year. But for others, the winter can be a difficult time. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects as much as 10 to 20 percent of the population each winter.
As the days become shorter and the weather grows colder, many people suffer from depression. And for the elderly, depression during the winter months can be compounded with sadness as the holiday approaches due to the loss of a loved one, a struggle with their health or nostalgia for elapsed traditions.
As the holidays approach us, there are many ways you can brighten the day of someone who may be feeling down:
Give them something to look forward to:
Your mother or father may be feeling lonely, or like their life is less exciting now that their activities are limited. Give them something to look forward to by making a date on the calendar for some quality time together. Invite them for a day doing something they enjoy, like going to a museum, having lunch at a new restaurant or seeing a new movie together. If your family member suffers from dementia, write the date down on a piece of paper so they will be reminded of your upcoming time together every time they see it.
Remember that feelings just are. If your elderly loved one is sad, try your best to listen to them without judgment. Let them share their feelings with you, and try not to disregard them or offer reasons why they shouldn’t feel the way they do.
Enhance their nutrition:
Positive nutrition is a perfect first defense against depression. Making sure your family member is getting the nutrition he or she needs is essential to helping them feel better from the inside out. Foods that contain omega 3 fatty acids, like salmon, have been proven to reduce depression and anxiety. Citrus is also an excellent mood lifter, and oranges are especially tasty while they are in season in the winter. And don’t forget to include a Vitamin D supplement with their daily meals, as it has been proven to help ward against depression and sadness.