Five Star Senior Living: Holiday depression and working to prevent it

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Image via Five Star Senior Living.

By Amber Page

The holidays are an enjoyable time. Families gather together to share pleasant memories, eat delicious family favorites, and exchange presents of gratitude.

The holidays should be a joyous occasion for all ages. Unfortunately, a lot of statistics pertaining to the senior population say otherwise. The months of November and December can be a challenging time for the geriatric population with feeling more isolated and fighting depression.

According to the Administration for Community Living, close to 28 percent of seniors, or 12.1 million, live alone. One fourth of this number in 2014 was women between the ages of 65 and 74. This number only increased the older the age group became. Also, one in five people over 65 do not drive, and this makes it harder for them to travel to their loved ones on the holidays.

Spending time with family can become more complicated for elderly residents due to the fact that a lot of families live out of town, their own health limitations, and inclement weather. According to the Perspective on Psychological Science, prolonged isolation can be as bad for health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Also, their loneliness may be intensified by Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. This is a depressive illness provoked by the reduction of sunlight.

Being aware of the signs and symptoms of depression can help families prepare for the festive season. At Exton Senior Living, they acknowledge these struggles and create an environment that is full of support and socialization. Their proactive Lifestyle 360 program is a great way to help seniors stay active during the holidays. The community hosts exercise programs, provides physical therapy, and does outside outings with the residents for more sun exposure and for a change in surroundings. Last week the residents enjoyed a lunch trip to Applebee’s.

Joining a senior living community is also a great way to extend one’s family and friends. A resident at Exton Senior Living just recently wrote a Google review stating that, “All of her closest friends live here.” The community has nurses and care aides helping to monitor medications, assist in activities of daily living, and encourage the residents to participate in events and activities.

Exton Senior Living also hosts a Family Friend event once a month. Our families are very active in the community. Once a month our directors throw a party that is centered on the entire family and our residents’ friends. This is their home too.

This past Thanksgiving, the Food Service Director, Jeff McMullin, and team members cooked a handmade Thanksgiving meal. There were dedicated meal times for the residents’ loved ones to join our family table and experience the Thanksgiving traditions. Exton Senior Living also hosts a large holiday party around Christmas and invites everyone’s families.

Click here to read more about detecting signs of depression in your aging loved one.

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Amber Page is the Sales Director at Five Star Senior Living at Exton, and has worked with Five Star since 2012. She has a Bachelor of Science in Health Administration from the University of Scranton. To contact her, e-mail APAGE@5SSL.COM.

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