Now that the hustle and bustle of the holiday season have slowed down, it’s normal for both older adults and family caregivers to experience a come-down period, which might include anxiety and loneliness. Here’s how to know if your loved one needs some additional support, as well as how to make these next few months feel a bit less isolating.
Why the First Few Months of the Year Can Be Isolating for Older Adults
The holiday season, which feels like it lasts nowadays from Halloween through New Year’s Day, is typically packed with get-togethers, school concerts, and family traditions. While your loved one may no longer host events or attend every gathering, they are likely much busier with social obligations in the last few months of the year than they are normally. When January hits, the calendar gets a lot less busy, which can easily lead to boredom and loneliness.
In addition, the general community, including family and friends, tend to be extra vigilant about checking in with seniors. There are suddenly opportunities for free meals and lively events at local places of worship, senior centers, and even schools. Unfortunately, this goodwill and opportunities often stop at the beginning of January. This can leave older adults feeling suddenly forgotten.
Finally, family members are often visiting for longer periods of time during the holidays. This means that older adults receive more support, such as hands-on help with house cleaning and grocery shopping or meal prep, that they no longer have once everyone has packed up and gone home.
When to Worry
It’s common for everyone to feel a bit blue during January. Not only are the days short and the weather cold, but there are no longer chances to connect with others as easily as it was during the holidays. However, while everyone might feel a bit of that post-holiday sadness, there are signs that could point to a more significant issue.
Contact your loved one’s physician if you notice:
- New or recurring sleep disruptions, whether that is sleeping too much or not enough
- Statements of depression, loneliness, or self-harm
- Cognitive decline
- Refusing to attend events or gatherings they would have once loved
- Decreased interest in hobbies they once enjoyed
- Lack of appetite
- Poor personal hygiene
- Inability to keep up with household chores
Your loved one’s physician can provide a thorough assessment and talk with you both about treatment and support options.
Returning to “Normal”
While the term “normal” changes from year to year, you can support your loved one as they settle back into a non-holiday schedule with a few of these tips:
- Get things on their calendar they can look forward to, like a dinner out together or a video chat on a specific day and time.
- Encourage your loved one to get moving. Exercise and movement create “feel good” endorphins that can increase energy and boost mood.
- Schedule transportation, if needed, to weekly appointments, like church services or coffee dates with friends.
- Bring CaringGivers into the mix! Our team of trained and compassionate caregivers are here to provide the hands-on support and companionship that can give them back their time and energy. We specialize in creating relationships with our clients that feel like friendships (because they are!). We love becoming a part of their daily or weekly routine.
Contact our office to schedule your free assessment or to tell us more about your situation. Here’s to a happy new year for all of us!