January: Fighting Post-Holiday Depression

Feeling depressed is “common” among seniors, but not “normal”

We’ve probably all experienced post-holiday blues at some point. After the rush of joy at being together with family and friends, giving and receiving gifts, and non-stop holiday rushing, you’re left with the January “blahs.” Seniors, especially, may experience sad feelings after the holidays, leading to depression. It’s important to keep an eye on the emotional state of the older people in your life, as they themselves may not even realize they’re heading toward depression.

Contributing Factors to Depression

Folks over 65 may feel down after the holidays for several reasons. All the hustle and bustle of the holidays may have physically exhausted many seniors. They may experience loneliness at the fact they won’t see family again for many months. They may also be concerned about their finances after their holiday purchases, sadness at recalling loved ones who are no longer living, and perhaps they fear declining health while being alone.

What to Look For

Elderly family members may show signs of being more irritable, more anxious, or not as talkative as they once were. They may also not return phone calls, don’t keep the house as clean, may have lost interest in activities they once enjoyed, find it hard to stay asleep, and may have lost their appetite.

How to Help

Getting seniors who feel lonely and isolated out of the house will do wonders. Socializing with others will help ease those feelings. Take time to visit weekly, or if you’re out of town or have work or other time conflicts, consider having one of our NJ elder care “Angels” provide caring companionship. And, if well enough, you can also encourage them to take advantage of the local senior center’s programs, such as bingo, dancing, and exercise classes. Should you suspect depression in your loved one, seek medical advice. They may benefit significantly from antidepressants and/or other forms of therapy.

Local Resources

Mercer County Office on Aging, 609-989-6661
Burlington County Office on Aging, 609-265-5069

For more information on depression in elder adults, download our January Community Resource Bulletin pdf, which contains Facts About Depression in Older People, Tips for Helping An Older Person Who Is Depressed, and Understanding the Differences Between Dementia and Depression.

Wishing a HAPPY and Healthy New Year to All!