Most of us relish the holiday season with opportunities to relax, spend time with family, and enjoy traditions. For the elderly and aging, however, it can lead to challenging moments. Imagine being forgetful, unable to get around or having seasonal depression. Happy gatherings are sometimes clouded with confusion, mixed-up schedules, and financial obligations that can leave seniors and caregivers cranky and lacking in holiday spirit. An article from NYC Senior Care blog offers some tips on keeping the holidays happy and peaceful for us all.
Slow Down: Family and friends traveling for the winter holidays often try to see everyone and do everything but grandma or great uncle may not be able to handle that kind of pace. “Make sure to schedule ample rest time throughout and allow for plenty of transportation time in between visits.”
Sharon O’Brian writer for About.com Senior Living pages shares this from Dr. Daniel Sewell, “Assign someone to be the day’s companion to the older person, to make sure the individual is comfortable.” Using a realistic schedule will keep things enjoyable for everyone.
Care for their schedule: Be prepared and plan ahead to honor their schedule for sleeping and eating. Being attentive to this and doing your best to stick to it will help keep them in the right rhythm. They’ll be at their best and less stressed.
Watch expenses: Finances are a common concern for the aging and many elderly people are on a fixed income. “Travel, gifts and food can all start to take their toll on the checkbook.” Try to keep costs down to reduce stress. Create traditions that include family involvement but at low or no cost, such as window shopping or making something together. Dr. Sewall suggests getting the whole family involved in holiday meal preparation. “Older adults with physical limitations can still be included in kitchen activities by asking them to do a simple, helpful task, like greasing cooking pans, peeling vegetables, folding napkins or arranging flowers.”
For seniors, even those with in home care or other forms of assistance, the holiday season can be long and sad. Be sure to reach out to those who may need a little extra support and, as Dr. Sewell says, “Remember to be sensitive and loving. And plan ahead.”