Caring for Seniors Over the Holidays
Holidays can be especially tough for the elderly. The holidays can easily remind some of happier times or signify the loss of spouses, parents, or other loved ones over the years. Aging can also significantly limit a senior’s participation in favorite holiday traditions.
21% (1 in 5 people) 65 and older do not drive & this is the primarily why they may feel isolated.
Elderly are vulnerable to depression, especially around the holidays.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but also a very busy one! You may live far from aging loved ones or may not have the extra time to devote. Thus older adults can easily miss out on enjoying the holidays. Truly celebrating the holiday season (in all its glory) can be difficult for even the most independent seniors.
However, with some planning and modifications to holiday traditions, your aging loved ones or clients will feel loved and included during this holiday season.
Whether you’re a caregiver or hiring holiday help, here are ways to help seniors spend the holidays:
- With decorations, cleaning or setting up for the holidays
- Holiday shopping & wrapping presents
- Baking Cookies
- Grocery shopping & cooking holiday recipes
- Rides to family gatherings, the store, or to see holiday lights
- Being a companion & share the holiday spirit
- Host a social or gathering for elderly clients or senior community
A holiday party is an excellent way to bring the elderly together and possibly help introduce new friends! This creates an opportunity to socialize, build relationships and connect with peers experiencing similar situations & emotions over the holidays.
You could do a white elephant gift exchange, play music from the era they grew up in and/or learn to do a new craft, recipe or holiday cocktail (mocktail).
A holiday party gives seniors something to look forward to, and a reason to dress up and feel good about themselves.
Other Simple Tips for Making this Holiday Merry & Bright for the Elderly
- Acknowledge losses and encourage sharing memories of loved ones. This may also be a good time to do a craft project to remember loved ones or put up a memorial ornament.
- Give the gift of time and togetherness. Plan an outing (such as one of the above), create a video card from the grandkids or have your aging loved one share an old family recipe.
- Simplify routines and modify traditions to reduce stress and better accommodate today’s reality. Keep in mind what is important to loved ones about traditions-figure out how to continue them but perhaps in slightly new ways.
- Be aware of signs of depression. Is someone you care about withdrawing, showing no interest in favorite activities, not sleeping well, changing eating or drinking patterns, having trouble remembering? Check in with those who have suffered losses or are showing any of the above signs. Have someone stopping by if you are at a distance from a loved one.
Be conscious of potential difficulties with an event or holiday plans for someone with physical or other limitations. Will your friend with memory problems be overwhelmed and anxious at the large holiday party? Might your Mom need help to the bathroom during the holiday play and need someone with her who can assist?
Don’t forget your aging loved one this holiday season and our holiday specials!
Dr. Kay got her medical education in Brazil.
Dr. Kay also has a master degree in Film and Television from UCLA and has been an adviser for medical television shows.
Dr. Kay is very active in the Health Industry. She is a member of the American Board of Home Care, the National Association of Home Care, CAHSAH, California Association of Health Services at Home. She co-chairs the education committee for the Down with Falls Coalition. Dr. Kay is in the speaker’s bureau for the coalition helping educate health care professionals and the community on fall risks, diabetes, adverse drug reaction, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, dehydration and nutrition, etc…. for older adults.
Dr. Kay was nominated by the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) as the Remarkable Woman of 2008.
Dr. Kay is actively involved in many philanthropy and non-profit organizationssuch as the American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen, the Philharmonic Society, Women Helping Women, Youth Employment Services, E-Women, Women Sage, Plasticos Foundation, CIELO and others.
Dr. Kay’s passion is to assist seniors to live long and thrive in the comfort of their own home.
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