Q: For my entire life my mother has been consistent in making Christmas very special for me. She took great care in decorating the house and buying special presents for everyone. Now due to her dementia I doubt she even realizes Christmas is coming. We are both widowed so I am sure that has added to my "holiday blues." What can I do to try and get out of this gloomy feeling?
A: While this can be a beautiful time of year the holidays can trigger deep feelings of sadness and anxiety for many reasons. Reality is as we age the holidays are going to be different but that doesn't mean the true feeling has to be totally lost.
Helping others is one of the best antidotes to seasonal sadness, it can be a real mood lifter. Look for opportunities in your community to make the holidays special for someone less fortunate. Often there are organizations cooking meals for homebound individuals and could use an extra hand in the kitchen or delivering the food. Businesses may have trees with "wish lists" attached. Buying a gift for someone who might otherwise not have any presents to open can make a difference in that person's life.
It may be a challenge to motivate yourself to exercise when your are down in the dumps but this is a way to induce the feel-good endorphins.
Taking care of yourself is important so get plenty of sleep and eat healthy meals.
Even if you are not particularly religious, sometimes sitting in a sacred place helps to point out the true meaning of the holidays. Look to see if there are churches nearby scheduling choral services, you don't need to be a member to enjoy the music.
Find someone to talk with when you are feeling especially sad or start a journal to write down your feelings. Don't keep everything bottled up inside of you. While this holiday is not going to be the same as you remember, take a moment to be grateful for all the years you were fortunate to have all those you have lost in your life.
Are you struggling caring for an older adult or having difficulty locating resources? Our experienced staff are available for no cost consultations in the home, office or community. For additional information or to schedule an appointment call 1-800-892-0890. Do you have a question? We encourage inquiries and comments from our readers. Direct correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org or Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley Inc., AgeInfo Department, 280 Merrimack St., Suite 400, Lawrence, MA 01843. Joan Hatem-Roy is the CEO of Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley Inc. and North Shore Elder Services.