“Holiday blues” among seniors is very real and should be handled carefully. Older adults often have emotional, mental, and physical needs not taken into account during the holidays, and it can be a difficult time for them. While there are several things that can influence their confusion, or even depression during the holidays, here are a few that you might want to keep an eye out for.
Loneliness. It’s easy for adult children to forget how much their grandparents or elderly parents look forward to spending time with them. Once people get busy with their own lives and family, the senior loved ones often get overlooked. Make It a priority to work in time to spend with them this holiday season!
One more thing to remember is that many elderly loved ones have outlived close friends and family, and they may really be feeling the sting of those losses during the holidays. So how do you help the seniors in your life enjoy the here-and-now? So glad you asked! Read on.
Tips for Helping Elderly Loved Ones Have Joy During the Holidays:
Stroll Down Memory Lane
Cognitive decline such as memory loss makes it hard for the elderly to recall recent happenings, but they remember long-term memories with no problem. Asking them to share stories from the past is a good way to engage them in conversation. It’s also great for the children to hear these stories and pass them down. If possible, gather together around photo albums or videos and have some quality time!
It’s a good idea to plan ahead for the activities not to wear an older person out. They may be used to a routine and could become exhausted or agitated with over-stimulation. Designating a “quiet room” for them to take a nap if needed can really help with this problem. Assign someone to be a companion for the day to make sure all the older person’s needs are met.
Be careful not to rearrange furniture or change the layout of the home in any way if the holiday gathering will take place at the home of a senior with dementia or Alzheimer’s. The resulting confusion could be a source of stress for them. You should also remove throw rugs or anything else they could easily trip on.
Avoid Embarrassing Moments
Avoid having a conversation that would embarrass a person with short-term memory loss. For instance, if they repeat the same question or tell the same story over again, don’t tease them about that or say things like, “I just told you this, don’t you remember?”
Get Out of the House
Part of helping seniors enjoy the now is giving them new things to anticipate. Getting them out of the house for a concert, play, or museum is a great way to enjoy new things with them. They may also really enjoy things like driving around to look at Christmas lights. These are ways to make new memories!
Be Inclusive in Meal Preparation
When it comes to the holiday meal, involve everyone, including seniors! They may have physical limitations but can still help with simpler tasks such as setting the table, arranging flowers, or peeling veggies. The youngest all the way up to the oldest should have fun in the kitchen!
Loneliness is a tough thing for anyone but can be especially difficult for seniors. Depression often sets in when they are lonely, so take time to reach out, make a call to chat, or stop in to visit. Seniors need to feel connected, especially during the holidays.
Stay on the Sunny Side
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that often sets in during the winter months. It can be worsened by a lack of sunlight when days are much shorter during the winter. If your senior loved one is confined to being indoors most of the time, help get them outside for exposure to the sun for a few minutes. Whether you sit on the porch and have coffee or take a walk, sunlight is very important for preventing depression!
Monitor Medications and Alcohol
Finally, be mindful of helping seniors stick the routines they are used to. This includes medication. If there is a lot going on, it can be easy to get off their medication schedule, so set a timer if necessary, to help them remember when medicine should be taken.
For more information on helping seniors get through the holiday blues, contact us today!
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