December 17, 2011 @ 3:11 PM

During the Holidays, Be Alert for Depression Among Older Adults

For most, holidays are a time of joy, a time to visit with friends and families and enjoy festive and religious events. However, for some older adults, the fall and winter holidays can be difficult, and some may experience depression.

During the holidays, older adults may feel more acutely the passing of time, the absence of parents, siblings and friends who have died, and the distance of loved ones who have moved away. Traditional holiday reunions and rituals that were observed in the past may not be possible and without them, the holidays may lack meaning.

'While it's normal to feel sad or down in the face of these losses, a long period of feeling blue may be an indication of a more serious problem such as a clinical depression,' said Stephen J. Bartels, M.D., M.S., chair of the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation, a group established to raise awareness of psychiatric and mental health disorders affecting the elderly and promote healthy aging strategies. 'Friends and family should be alert for any signs of depression.'

To avoid the blues at holiday time, 'Stay active, stay interested, stay engaged, stay healthy,' suggests Gary J. Kennedy, M.D., Foundation vice-chair.

For additional information and tips for older adults, family members, friends and caregivers to help prevent, recognize, and manage late-life depression, go to the following link on Senior Navigator.