Older adults don't have to give in to holiday blues


For The Mirror

Ideally, the holidays are a joyous and festive time spent with family and friends. For many older adults, however, this time of year brings reminders of change and loss and is anything but merry.

During the holidays, some older adults reflect more on the absence of family and feel that traditional reunions or events are meaningless without those loved ones. Unrealistic expectations play a major role in holiday stressors, as well.

Late-life depression affects more than 6 million Americans, most of them women, but only 10 percent of people ever get treated, according to The Society for Women’s Health Research. Holiday depression and the post-Jan. 1 letdown afflicts many more.

According to the Healthy Aging Partnership, a coalition of more than 40 not-for-profit and public organizations in King County and elsewhere dedicated to the health and well-being of older adults, there are ways to minimize extra stress or negative feelings during the holidays:

• Set realistic expectations for yourself regarding what you can do and spend. Accept your limitations and ask for help when you need it.

• Try to understand your emotions and why you are having them. Recognize causes of sadness, frustration and anger in your life.

• Don’t be afraid to express your feelings. Keeping negative feeling inside can cause problems in your relationships, so let people close to you know when something is bothering you.

• Remember that depression is not a natural condition of old age and should not be tolerated as part of the aging process.

• Honor loved ones who have passed away by donating to a charity or lighting a candle in their name.

• Get out of the house every day

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