By Jane Glenn Haas
The Orange County Register
Occasionally, rarely, I get a news release so explicit, so informative that nothing needs to be added.
The American Geriatrics Society hit the mark with a recent distribution of “Tips for Beating the Holiday Blues.”
For too many older adults, holidays bring home nothing more than the downsides of life.
Health conditions or concerns about money, loved ones who have died, a sense of aloneness — all these negatives can seem larger than life at a time when everyone else appears to be having fun.
To cope with the melancholy that might accompany the holidays, the American Geriatrics Society offers these excellent tips:
— Get out and about: Ask family and friends for help traveling to parties and events. Invite family and friends to your house.
— Volunteer: Helping others is a great mood lifter. To volunteer, contact your local United Way or call schools, churches, synagogues or mosques and ask about volunteer opportunities in your neighborhood.
— Limit the eggnog: Too much alcohol can lower your spirits.
— Accept your feelings: There’s nothing wrong with not feeling jolly; many people get the blues during the holidays.
— Confide in someone: Talk about your feelings; it can help you understand why you feel the way you do.
— Recognize the warning signs of depression: Holiday blues are usually temporary and mild, but depression is more serious and can linger until you get help.
Look for these signs:
— Sadness that won’t leave; loss of interest or pleasure
— Changes in appetite or weight or sleeping a lot more or a lot less than usual
— Crying often
— Feeling restless or tired all the time
— Feeling worthless or helpless or guilty
— Thoughts of death or suicide
Start the healing: If you’re depressed, see your healthcare provider.
Depression is treatable.
And if an older loved one has the blues or seems depressed: Include them: Invite them out and to get-togethers. Take into account their needs for transportation, special diet and so on.
Lend a hand: Offer help with shopping and preparations for get-togethers in their home.
Be a good listener: Encourage your loved one to talk about how he or she is feeling. Acknowledge difficult feelings, including a sense of loss if family or friends have died or moved away.
Encourage him or her to talk with a healthcare provider: Many older people don’t realize when they’re depressed, so if you suspect depression, you might need to bring it up more than once. Let your loved one know depression is a medical illness and is nothing to be ashamed of.
This is not the happiest time of year for everyone. American Geriatrics Association has done an excellent job of identifying the key signs of holiday blues.
While you keep up your spirits, lift up those around you.