Ah, the holidays. A time of joy and cheer, friends and parties. It’s a time of happiness for all…or is it? There are many people for which the holidays are a challenging time. The isolated, ill or disenfranchised all may suffer at this time. Surprisingly, one of the most vulnerable of these groups are senior citizens. While their children run around shopping and “holidaying” mom and dad sometimes sink into the background. The shift may be very subtle, but this along with the recent death of friends and spouses, ill health and financial woes, combine to make the holidays a difficult time of the year for seniors.
There are many reasons for holiday depression. Seniors who have lost many who were close to them may become isolated with the advancing years. The festivities of the Holidays serve to underscore this isolation by emphasizing everyone else has friends. In the generation of scattered families seniors may not be able to visit children and grandchildren further adding to the feeling of separation. In areas with cold winters, seniors may not be able to attend activities that they enjoy during the mild months. Meeting other seniors for food and bingo helps build the feeling of togetherness and prevent feelings of isolation.
Senior depression can be mild, or if not recognized can become quite serious. How can loved ones and family members recognize senior depression in those they love? While there is no actual test, those who care about a senior should watch for lack of interest in activities the senior previously enjoyed. There are often changes in eating or sleeping habits and the person may appear quiet or withdrawn. What can a loved one do for a senior family member or friend that seems depressed around the holidays? One important tactic is to try to involve them. Even if you can’t go personally, regular phone contact lets them know they are not forgotten. If close enough try to visit and better yet include seniors in your holiday plans. Allowing them to help wrap presents or sit with children lets them feel useful and provides meaning to their lives. Even if they feel a little blue, if they have promised to come over, it is likely they will come. If seniors can be kept active and busy it will help keep them from dwelling on deceased friends and spouses.
There are times when holiday blues can turn to something more serious. This is obvious if there is any talk about life not being worth it, or joining loved ones who are deceased. If you have any question about a senior friend or family member, contact a local family counseling center. They are usually familiar with depression around the holidays, and excel at working with families.
BENEFITS OF EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
Research has shown the importance of early childhood education both in the home and at school. Studies show that by as early as second grade, students not at grade level are unable to catch up. There are certain physical and cognitive skills and academic achievements (letter recognition, number ability) that are necessary for young children to achieve preferably before the child reaches kindergarten. The best way to make sure your child is on track academically is to enroll them in a quality pre-school, and/or teach them at home.
The Publicpolicyforum.com has collected results of some major studies. Some of the highlights on the benefits of pre-school participation include:
Depending on the study, quality pre-school provide a return on anywhere from $3-8 dollars on every dollar invested in a child. Most economists feel that the greatest natural economic resource in America today is our workforce. Investment in early childhood education assures that the general population will have the necessary skills for success in the future.