Winter depression is still a mystery to scientists who study it, but many Americans suffer from this very real disorder—especially aging adults. Combined with depression, loneliness, and feelings of frustration, now is the time to pay special attention to your older loved one.
Make sure you are showing your loved one empathy during this time. Aging can be difficult, and it is natural for some people to feel down. Validate their feelings, and talk about your own struggles or sadness.
When they vent about their feelings, really listen. Ask them further questions to ease their fears. Are they concerned they’re “in the way”? Do they feel like a burden? Let them know these feelings are valid, but not the case, and assure them they are a loved and valuable part of your family and life.
Make sure your loved one never feels unhelpful or unwanted. Include them in as many events and occasions as possible, whether it’s a graduation, a birthday, or the smallest gathering, keep them involved.
Spend Quality Time
Spend quality time with your elderly parent. Make frequent family visits or calls with loved ones. Discuss current events, take them for a walk, or play a family game. If they can stay updated with you and your family’s life, they’ll feel loved and appreciated.
Do not underestimate the power of affection. Hugs, holding hands and other physical gestures of affection have the potential to ease our minds. When your loved one confides in you, take their hand to show you’re supporting them through this. Make sure you hug them, and show them you care. These acts of affection make us feel less isolated, as well as reduce stress and anxiety.
Create New Memories
Create new traditions and memories. Seniors need many things to look forward to. Start new traditions they are easily able to participate in, like taking new pictures or inventing a fun family game.
If you or a loved one are experiencing feelings of depression, there is help and there is hope. Be sure to seek proper medical help as well as therapy.
Anne Markowitz Recht is founder and CEO of AMR Care Group, serving NYC and Long Island with comprehensive and customer oriented services to those in the aging process or adults challenged with physical or cognitive disabilities.