Preparing Seniors for the Holidays
Ready or not, the holidays are upon us! While the purpose of this season is to honor religious and spiritual beliefs, the holidays can often become unnecessary sources of stress for seniors. With gift giving, holiday gatherings, travel and simply the natural “hustle and bustle” that seems to be a come along with today’s seasonal celebrations, elderly loved ones and those experiencing dementia or Alzheimer’s can actually dread this time of year. Fellowship Square offers caregivers and family members tips to help their senior loved ones enjoy the holidays — and avoid stress — this season.
Shower them with Care
Some seniors may feel especially sad or alone at the holiday time, particularly if they have recently lost their significant other, close relative or loved one. Rather than giving gifts that may end up cluttering their living spaces, giving the gift of spending time with loved ones will mean so much more to them. Visit them in their home or community, sit and read with them, talk or pray. These special moments can uplift their spirits — and yours, too!
Keep Holiday Celebrations Small
Oftentimes, a large gathering or party can prove overwhelming for elderly, especially if they are experiencing dementia or Alzheimer’s. They may start to feel anxiety over not remembering the names of their relatives or even where they are. Limit holiday gatherings with seniors to the closest family members and friends, and ensure that the environment is a relaxed one. It’s also a good idea to limit the length of gatherings, or at least the time that is spent with the seniors so they can rest when needed.
Adjust Travel Plans
While many seniors still enjoy traveling for the holidays — to see new places or familiar faces — it’s important to realize that travel plans may need to be altered. For example, if you once spent the whole day sightseeing on foot, keep in mind that your senior loved one may not be able to maintain that level of energy anymore. Consider shorter periods of sightseeing or arrange for tours via train, bus, or boat. Always make sure seniors have their medication when they travel and that there is plenty of rest time. It’s also important in the case of those with dementia or Alzheimer’s that they are closely monitored — sometimes the stress and confusion of travel can cause seniors with these ailments to wander. Staying as true to the seniors’ regular schedule (mealtimes, nap, bedtime, etc.) can also help them avoid unnecessary stress.
Prep Your Home
If your are opening your home to senior loved ones during the holidays, make sure that you give your house a once-over prior to their visit. Consider non-slip rugs or mats in the bathroom and kitchen as well as dim automatic lighting in the hallways at nighttime and be sure to clear clutter from floors and countertops. If space allows, make your loved one feel at home with a special room of their own, so they have a private place to go if they need some quiet downtime.
The holidays should be a time of revelry and spiritual reflection, not stress or anxiety — for people of any age. With some simple planning, you can help ensure that your entire family, including those experiencing dementia or Alzheimer’s has a very happy holiday season.