Family time - Holiday Tips for Seniors and Caregivers

Things to remember as the Holiday Season approaches

While the holidays are a time of gathering with family and friends, they can also be a source of stress. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 13.5 percent of seniors who require regular assistance or home health care experience feelings of sadness, loneliness, isolation, anxiety, frustration, and a sense of loss which only increases as the holidays approach.

If you have a senior loved one, or care for an older adult, these tips will help make the season more enjoyable by reducing the emotional burden of the holiday blues.

Signs of Depression

Seniors may not show obvious signs of depression and may be reluctant to talk about their feelings. Any of the following symptoms may indicate depression in aging adults:

  • Feeling irritable, anxious, or guilty
  • Excessive tiredness
  • Memory problems, lack of concentration
  • Aches and pains with no specific cause
  • Digestive problems
  • Changes in eating habits (overeating or loss of appetite)

Holiday Health

Holidays and food are a major focus making it more of a challenge to stick to dietary restrictions, especially low salt, low fat, and low sugar. Find out what your loved one can eat and make sure to include several “safe” options in your holiday menu. Look for recipes that you can serve the entire family rather than preparing a separate meal for your loved one.

If it is safe to drink alcohol, make sure it is in moderation. Keep in mind that alcohol can intensify the blues and may interfere with certain drugs. Always read the medication labels.

It is also recommended to take a walk after large meals. Throughout life it is important to keep a somewhat active lifestyle to age healthily and a walk, even if it isn’t very far or fast, can do wonders for your body both during the holidays as well as throughout the year.

Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of fluids, as not drinking enough water could cause hospitalization. To make it easier to stay hydrated, have water easily accessible at home and take with you when going out for a walk.

Realistic Holiday Plans

Resist the urge to make elaborate plans for travel or parties for older adults as they may prefer to spend an afternoon with you and your children baking, making crafts, reading and reminiscing about the past rather than attending a larger gathering.

Decrease Gifts

For many seniors, especially those on a fixed income, the holidays can be a financial challenge due to purchasing gifts for many family members. To reduce stress from paying for gifts, consider having a family grab bag, where everyone contributes one gift.

Make Your Home Accessible

If older relatives are visiting your home for the holidays, minimize the possibility of embarrassing or unsafe moments, especially for those with mobility issues. During the winter months, ensure the sidewalks and porch areas are clear of any snow and ice to eliminate spills and falls. Consider having your guests sleep on the first floor of your home and if that is not possible, let them stay in a room close to the bathroom. Remove slippery throw rugs, toys and miscellaneous items allowing for a clear walkway. Leave lights on in the bathroom, and use night lights in hallways if your guests are staying overnight.

Stay Connected

Feelings of isolation and loneliness can be especially acute during and after the holidays. When you can’t be together, make it easy for seniors to be social at home, even if they are in assisted living or other types of senior living communities. Provide them with snacks they can have on hand when friends and neighbors drop by. Stay connected by taking advantage of video calling capabilities. Make it a point of checking in more frequently in the days and weeks leading up to and after the holidays.

With a few preventative measures and a willingness to change some traditions, seniors can stay healthy and follow their diets, while also having fun with their family members this holiday season.


Author

Cindy Koch, MA

Certified Placement & Referral Specialist (CPRS) | Owner

Aging at 5280 is here to help elders and their families navigate through the healthcare system and customize a plan to meet their needs.