The squeals of children opening gifts. The uproarious laughter over classic family stories. The traditional food dishes and sweet treats. The holidays are over. Sigh. As the year-end activities fade, the blaring silence signals that family and friends aren’t around and creates its own unsettling noise for many senior adults. After New Year’s Day, the letdown of the holiday season hits a low note for many older adults, leaving them feeling lonely, depressed and just not up for socializing.
5 Ways to Lift the Spirits After the Holidays
So what can you do to boost your aging loved one’s spirit after the holidays? Here are five tips to help a senior beat the post-holiday blues.
1. Stay connected. Be intentional about engaging in regular phone (and video) calls, personal visits, outings, and social networking with your senior loved one. Maybe plan a mid-January evening of chili and games or a time together to look at photos from the holidays. Perhaps go see a movie or two (some of the best Oscar-nominated movies hit theaters nationwide in January). Or, simply laugh together.
2. Help identify what your senior can control. With an aging body, paying holiday bills and worrying about the future, many older adults start 2018 feeling their life is unmanageable. Encourage your senior to choose one lifestyle change to focus on in the next 30 days. Maybe it’s eating more vegetables, drinking more water, or talking with a financial planner or investment representative. Setting small, measurable goals is more effective than feeling down over a lengthy list of unreasonable New Year’s resolutions.
3. Recommend a personal health inventory. Did that tooth crack eating peanut brittle? What about the extra pounds from the extras consumed since Thanksgiving? January is an ideal time for your senior to make appointments for an annual physical or a visit to the dentist, optometrist or audiologist. With less sunlight in winter, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and lower vitamin D levels can also play a role in your elder feeling emotionally sluggish.
4. Join a class or community project together. Maybe yoga would stretch you all in a positive way? Or, how about volunteering at the local animal shelter or the reading-to-kids program at the library? Interacting with others is beneficial in producing natural mood lifters in the body, including serotonin, endorphins and dopamine. Finding a cause isn’t just for the younger generations. Serving others and contributing to society is a way for older adults to give back and feel uplifted emotionally.
5. Plan a trip or fun adventure. Getting out of the house and sometimes out of town entirely can energize your senior with a fresh perspective. Invite your elder to give their social calendar a facelift. Maybe your older loved one has a bucket list of travel destinations to visit or hobbies to enjoy. Or, perhaps checking out a new eatery in town or an art gallery or museum in the area is on your senior’s list. Even helping your senior research and make affordable travel arrangements can bring a lift to the days and weeks past January 2.
So say “so long” to holiday goodies, and say “hello” to painting the post-holiday blues into a corner and choosing from a whole palette of promising opportunities in the year ahead.
What suggestions can you share for helping a senior beat the post-holiday letdown?
An award-winning journalist who has documented stories in nearly 20 countries, Beth Lueders is an author, writer and speaker who frequently reports on diverse topics, including aging and health issues for both U.S. and international corporations.