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Holidays are Joyous, But Some Seniors Face the Blues This Time of Year

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Families should talk to their seniors if they see signs of depression. Families should talk to their seniors if they see signs of depression.

RICHLAND, WA- During the holidays many people look forward to a joyous time, but for some senior citizens, it can be difficult. 

This time of year may be hard for some senior citizens because their holidays may be a little bit different now.  Maybe remembering a loved one that passed away, not being able to  move around like they used to, or maybe they're not in their own home, can all contribute to Seasonal Affective Disorder for seniors around the holidays. 

"Unfortunately depression in seniors often goes untreated and unrecognized," said Kimberly Miller, MD, Geriatric Physician at Kadlec's Senior Clinic.

The physicians at Kadlec said 10% of elders are depressed.  In nursing homes, that number goes up to 20%, and in hospitals it jumps up to 45%.  It can be everything from dealing with health problems to other life situations.   

"...and especially during the holidays when there can be a change in routine with more gatherings and celebrations and it's just a momentous time for a lot of people," said Delia Lee Takagi, MD, Geriatric Physician at Kadlec's Senior Clinic.

"What I talk to seniors a lot about is focusing on the good.  Focusing not on memory loss but on the wisdom they have," said Miller.

There are many things family members can do.

"Our seniors really need, is sometimes just to talk to someone," said Miller. 

The physicians suggest to check in on seniors.  Watch for loss of interest, sleep issues, weight gain or loss.  These are just a few signs that something may be wrong.  

For more information about Southeast WA Aging and Long Term Care Aging and Disability Resource Center, click here.  Here is a link to more information on senior depression from Health in Aging, the foundation of the American Geriatrics Society

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