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Banish the Holiday Blues

Tips for making the holidays jolly at your facility

By Laura Kuhn

Sleigh bells are ringing and Christmas carols are wafting through the air, but that doesn't mean that everyone is filled with the holiday spirit. In fact, you might find that many of your residents become depressed or blue when the holidays roll around. What causes the holiday blues and what can you do to banish them from your facility?

Getting to the bottom of "Bah humbug!"

Think about your fondest childhood holiday memories. For many of us, they revolve around time spent with family and friends. As we grow older, family and friends move away or might no longer be with us. This can lead older adults to think about how quickly time has passed or become sad at the prospect of celebrating the holidays without loved ones. Health problems and concerns about money can also make it difficult to find joy in the holiday season.1

How can you help the residents at your facility have a jolly holiday?

Remember the past, but don't live in it

Many residents might hold on to what they remember as ideal holiday celebrations from their youth and become upset when they are unableto recreate them. The good news is that there are no "rules" about what makes for a special holiday celebration.

Invite residents to share their fondest holiday memories. What did they eat for Christmas dinner as a child? What was their favorite present from Santa? Recalling these memories should bring a smile to residents' faces.

After they are finished recalling special Christmases past, gently remind the resident that while Christmas might be different now, the facility is dedicated to making sure they enjoy the holiday season and make lots of new memories.

Be a good listener

When you notice that residents seem down, encourage them to talk about how they're feeling. Acknowledge that they might be having "difficult" feelings, such as a sense of loss if their family members or friends have died or moved away. Remind the resident that there's nothing wrong with not feeling jolly and that a lot of people get the blues during the holiday season.1

The truth is, the holidays aren't a magic wand. No matter how many get-togethers residents attend or gifts they unwrap, the holidays won't automatically zap away worries, loneliness, sadness, frustration, anger or fear. This can be easy to forget when strains of "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" are filling the air.

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