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Community Stories

Being There – Supporting Seniors This Holiday Season

By Suzanne Dumaresq

The upcoming holiday season will bring families together — many who may not have seen one another since the COVID-19pandemic. It’s a time for gatherings and celebrations. It’s also an opportunity to check-in on aging family members and friends and reconnect in ways that make sense in the “new normal.”

Connect With a Senior
Some tips on how to reach out and brighten up a senior’s day:

  • Be Available – Take time to keep in touch
  • Be Present – When chatting, really listen
  • Be Dependable – Don’t reschedule visits
  • Help Seniors Find New Ways to Keep in Touch – Determine what technology they’re comfortable with and teach them to use text and social media to keep up with family and friends.

Evaluate a Senior’s Wellness
If you haven’t seen a loved one for a period of time, it’s important to have realistic expectations. Signs of physical aging may be more obvious, but be on the lookout for the emotional toll of the past year. There may be cause for concern or a need for intervention, support or professional care if a senior is experiencing:

  • Sadness or a depressed mood lasting for more than two weeks
  • Tiredness or a loss of interest in things once enjoyed
  • A change in weight or loss of appetite
  • Trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness

If You Need Support
For families in need of inpatient mental health care for their aging loved one, you can turn to the Senior Behavioral Health Unit at St. Mary’s Health System.

“In many cases, older adults tend to believe in pulling themselves up by their bootstraps, but that doesn’t work if they’re suffering from depression,” said Jodi Marshall, M.D., medical director of the senior behavioral health unit at St. Mary’s Health System. “Our dedicated team is here to provide compassionate care to those who need it in the later stages of life.”

(978) 312-4300