A blog about Medicare. What you and your employees need to know
Red, Green, and Holiday Blues
Author: Lora Drummond
Medicare Transition Specialist
Red, Green, Holiday Blues
Holiday cooking, decorating, shopping, and gathering preparations are in full swing. Holidays generally promote fun and festivity, but for some folks, the holidays can trigger sadness. There are a lot of expectations during the holidays that can make people feel less happy. Financial stress, memories, and social anxiety can impact holiday happiness. COVID has added another trigger… fatigue of coping with it, loneliness, and isolation for those who cannot gather will add to feeling blue.
When I lived in the mid-west, winter weather problems were critical determinates for traveling to gather. This year aging parents with health risks, large gatherings, and air travel virus-sharing concerns make opportunities to gather more questionable. My mom is 95. Fortunately, my sister lives with her and works safely from home, so they will have each other during the holidays, but not gathering all together will be disappointing. We will be ‘gobbling’ virtually for Thanksgiving and probably for Christmas ‘cheer’ too. Mom’s health is too precious. But many seniors might not be able to gather even virtually during the holidays. This separation will undoubtedly trigger additional holiday sadness for them.
From a Medicare benefit perspective, there is coverage for services relative to folks who might be feeling more than just the regular holiday ‘blues.’ If you sense a senior loved one might be feeling inordinately lost managing through holiday sadness, a call to their primary care doctor might put your mind at ease. Medicare covers office visits, counseling, therapy support, and medications. More care options are also covered, like diagnostic testing and hospitalization. Most outpatient care services are covered under Part B, medications under Part D, and inpatient care through the hospitalization benefit of Part A. Medicare even recommends depression screenings annually for seniors due to its prevalence in folks over age 55, but few beneficiaries are using this free annual Part B covered resource and many could find some relief in managing their blues with therapy options.
The Holiday Blues
If a senior you know is just feeling holiday blue, there are some things you might be able to provide to help them through the holiday season and lessen their sadness.
Limiting contact as a measure of safety seems counterintuitive at this time of the year when we have looked forward to traditional holiday gatherings all year. COVID has challenged us to find creative ways to stay distanced for our health and still connected. Sometimes inconveniences force us to look back on simpler times for solutions.
Social connecting is vital to healthy wellbeing for seniors. Articles abound online about the importance of seniors having social connectivity regularly during the year! The holidays are especially crucial for them to feel a sense of belonging.
Here are some ideas for connecting to the seniors you might have in your life while managing through the pandemic during the holidays to help them battle the blues.
- Mailing holiday cards have become less prevalent since the internet; however, many seniors have spotty internet or no wifi. Cards with photos and letters by mail would be a delightful surprise.
- Spread the holiday cheer by making frequent phone calls or virtual calls, where the technology is possible.
- And speaking of it…Virtual Technology! The creative options are almost endless since you can do things together, even though you are physically apart. This technology would be an excellent gift for your senior if you can safely get their virtual access setup.
- Bake a pie together
- Walk together or some other form of light exercise together while chatting virtually.
- Make a craft together, virtually! (There are companies online that create and sell craft kits to purchase and mail!)
- Share photos and create a family storybook
- Scheduling regular phone calls is also a way to have seniors look forward to connecting with them.
- Engage with them in coming up with a creative new tradition since you can’t be together.
- Personal letters written from each family member are lovely gifts to receive.
- A care package with healthy options or make-at-home meals delivered is a delicious gift.
- Find a virtual tour of a museum or place to watch and enjoy and discuss at the same time.
Are your creative juices flowing? What past simple method of connecting can you revive this holiday season to bring joy to the seniors in your life you will be apart from this holiday?
All year long, but especially during this season of gratefulness, The Medicare Architects Thank You for your partnership and appreciate the trust you have put in our team for providing Medicare education and transition support to your employees.
We wish you and your families a safe, healthy, and Happy Thanksgiving.
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