Sad senior at home during the holidays

Combatting the holiday blues

Engaging our persons living with dementia with meaningful activities

The holidays may create feelings of nostalgia and feeling “blue” as we reminisce over times gone by and loved ones we miss. During isolation these feelings may be exacerbated and lead to a depressed mood and ultimately depression.


How to recognize ‘the blues” or a depressed mood

  • Loss of interest in normally enjoyable activities
  • Increased sleep pattern/naps
  • Decreased/change in appetite
  • Decreased expression of joy or enjoyment
  • Complaints of unexplained pain
  • Avoiding social opportunities (phone calls/distanced visiting/outdoors gathering)


Strategies and tips to combat “the blues”

1. Consistent sleep routine; shorter naps: Consider night time routine for improved sleep- no screen time 1-2 hours before bed; limit fluids – no more drinking 2 hours before bed; empty bladder before bed; 70% hot cocoa in milk; melatonin; 20-30 min walk or other exercise before dinner; lavender scent, chamomile tea, relaxing music; book on tape.


2. Structured daytime routine nutrition: snacks; hydration; 30 min exercise; joyful experiences – anything nature related; 30 min of sun


3. Routine socialization: distanced walks, visits, phone calls, virtual visits, eat in dining room


4. Talk about feelings / validate feelings


5. Habit of gratefulness


6. Engage in tasks that has a visible/tangible pleasurable result: craft, cooking, organization, self-care, music, art


7. Access your happy hormones:

Dopamine: Reward chemical

  • Completing a task
  • Doing self-care activities
  • Eating food
  • Celebrating small wins

Oxytocin: Love Chemical

  • Playing with a dog
  • Playing with a baby
  • Holding a hand
  • Getting or giving a hug
  • Give a compliment

Serotonin: Mood Stabilizer

  • Meditate
  • Exercise in nature (swim/walk/run/bicycle)
  • Sun exposure

Endorphins: Pain killer

  • Laughter (jokes/reading/watch a comedy)
  • Essential oils
  • Dark chocolate
  • Exercise


Use these tips and tricks to help brighten up your holiday season!

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