Helping Seniors With the Holiday Blues

This article is part of Harbor’s Prevention Presents series, found on

The holidays can be a tough time for Seniors, especially if they are alone. They may not feel like celebrating the way that they used to with huge parties and large family gatherings. What was once a joyous time for celebration may turn into feelings of sadness and loneliness.

Even though the holidays might not be the same now for Seniors as they were in the past, older adults can still find a way and a reason to celebrate. It is important to hold old memories close to the heart, but there is always space for new ones. Seniors are in a new chapter of their life and they should celebrate it as such.

A big reason for such feelings of depression and anxiety comes from the loss of a loved one or significant other.  Celebrating the holiday season is not enjoyable anymore and may even seem pointless. Everyone grieves and deals with loss differently, but there are ways to keep spirits lifted and maintain a positive state of mind, especially during the holiday season:

  • Find a favorite picture of your loved one and display is somewhere meaningful
  • Attend church or a place of worship
  • Talk to a friend
  • Do an activity in a loved one’s honor
  • Volunteer and help those in need
  • Look through old photos of past holidays and reminisce
  • Visit the local senior center

Seniors, in addition to having sad feelings around the holidays, can also have added pressures and stress. This may stem from feeling overwhelmed by having so much to do in preparation for hosting a family get together or pressure to have a large celebration as in the past. Older adults may feel pressured to have the holidays exactly as it has traditionally been done in the family.

Stressful is the last thing any holiday should be and it is important to take time for yourself. To help alleviate unnecessary stress, take a deep breath and….

  • Think about yourself first and what you want. It is OK be a little selfish.
  • Set a party planning goal. Do a little bit at a time so it will not seem overwhelming.
  • Prioritize; make less food this year and maybe not decorate with EVERYTHING you have.
  • Ask for help or accept it when offered. Take a break from being the Superhero.
  • Enjoy the  process. If it is not fun anymore, then maybe making a new tradition would be the route to take.

It is easy to get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of what we need and are “supposed” to do. Remember what the season is all about: Being grateful, showing humanity, and spending time with family and loved ones. Everyone deserves to have peace of mind and a stress free holiday filled with joy.

Charlene B.

Charlene Toska is the senior prevention educator at Harbor, an affiliate of ProMedica. This article is part of the Prevention Prevents series, a series of columns found on For more information about Harbor’s prevention programs, please call 419-475-4449.