Thought I would share our Ask A Nurse column that will be printing in the Brookville Mirror in December. A very fitting topic for this time of the year.
Q. My elderly mom always gets down around the holidays. Is there anything I can do to help?
A. The holiday season is supposed to be a time for good cheer, celebration and family – or so the movies tell us. But the truth is, as we age, the holidays are a sharp reminder of how much life has changed and the loved ones we have lost. It’s perfectly normally your mom is feeling sad.
There are things you can do to help her. First, can you identify something specific that is causing her sadness?
Is she missing someone who has passed away? If so, be sure to acknowledge that loved one at family gatherings. Make a toast in their honor and spend time sharing favorite stories. Maybe she would like to make a trip to the cemetery to place a wreath or poinsettia on their grave.
Is she lonely? During this busy time of the year, elderly loved ones may feel isolated or even forgotten. You’ll have to make time to contact her more during the holidays. If you live far away, it’s making extra phone calls, perhaps while you’re on the way to shop, and encouraging other family members to call too. If you live close, it’s visiting more often, even for just fifteen minutes. This will help remind her she is cared for and loved.
Does she feel left out? Perhaps she always hosted holiday gatherings and now is unable to do so. Help her still feel a part of the planning and organizing by asking her questions, getting her input and keeping her informed of plans, menu choices and family news.
Is she unable to celebrate the holidays like she used to? Was she always a cookie baker or loved to decorate? Help bring those traditions alive again. She would love it if you or your children asked for her help to bake a family tradition or decorate her home. Even if she is living in a long term care community, you could bring her a plate of her favorite Christmas cookies and help decorate her room.
If her sadness lasts longer than the holiday season, and she is having trouble with sleep, loss of appetite, or loss of interest in things she used to enjoy, she may be experiencing clinical depression, which can lead to serious illness if untreated. If you suspect clinical depression, it’s time to talk to her doctor. She may even benefit from home health care. Our nurses assess and monitor depression symptoms and provide education and referrals for other services and treatments. For more information, call In Home Solutions PLUS at 814-849-5913. Wishing you and your loved ones a blessed and joyful holiday season!
The Ask a Nurse column is brought to you by Brookville resident Kelly Snell, RN, who has been the Director of Professional Services for In Home Solutions PLUS since 2007.