How Can Elderly People Cope with the Holidays

How can elderly people cope with the holidays?

The late-year holiday season has arrived. This is a time for people to appreciate friends and family. However, for seniors, it can also bring on depression, loneliness, and regret. So how can elderly people cope with the holidays?

Studies have found that approximately 20% to 25% of elderly people who have chronic disease and up to 40% hospitalized with an acute condition suffer from depression. The holidays can only amplify this depression because it is a time for personal reflection for most people. This is true for seniors who have lost loved ones and cope with reduced capabilities and independence.

Ways that Elderly People Cope with the Holidays

  • Older people can minimize the impact of depression during the holidays by understanding memories that trigger negative thoughts. Try to counteract these triggers with pleasant memories or take part in activities that redirect your thoughts.
  • Seniors can reach out to family, friends, and others who can provide conversation, support, and comfort. Don’t assume that people are avoiding you if you haven’t heard from them. Adult children get absorbed with their own lives and may not recognize that they are not remaining in contact sufficiently.
  • Elderly people need to eat healthy, get plenty of sleep, and exercise regularly. Poor health often leads to depression, so taking care of your physical and emotional self is essential.

Ways that Older Children and Friends can Help Elderly People Cope with the Holidays

  • Adult children and friends of elderly people need to watch for signs of depression. Lack of joy, sleep, and interest in things are indicators of depression. Reduction in socialization and appetite are other signs. Recognizing depression early enables you to develop interventions to reduce its impact.
  • Plan ways for the elderly person to engage in social activities geared toward family, friends, or supportive community environments. Include them in family gatherings and, if you can not be with your elderly loved one, stay in contact through the phone and remote software such as Zoom and Skype.
  • Try to redirect the elderly person from negative conversations that often lead to loneliness and depression. Acknowledge the negative thoughts as being important, but then attempt to redirect her to more positive thoughts or events.
  • Identify reasons the elderly person is struggling during the holidays. Issues such as emerging chronic health conditions, financial concerns, and negative social interactions can often be the foundation for depression. Discovering the underlying issue can lead to specific interventions to address it.


The holiday season can be a time of good cheer. However, it can also be a time that amplifies loneliness and depression, especially for elderly people. It is essential to maximize your contact with an elderly parent or friend, either in-person or by phone, to determine how she is doing and address any issues. Even brief conversations can help her feel appreciated and loved.

Check out this very informative online article from the American Medical Resource Institute on overcoming holiday depression for the elderly and their caretakers. Click here.

You can also learn more about why elderly people become sedentary, why it is an issue, how to persuade them to exercise and take part in activities, and what activities/exercises are best by clicking here.

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