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Blog Feature

By: Marissa Salvesen on December 26th, 2013

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Understanding Anxiety Surrounding the Holidays

assisted living | caregiver information | aging seniors | 60-day stay trial | anxiety | holiday season | Aging & Caregiving

ladies xmas village resized 600The holiday season can be a difficult time for many older adults. The loss of loved ones, close friends, physical mobility, and independence can be a very hard thing to adjust to. For many older adults, these changes can make the holidays quite different than they once were.

Dealing with the reality of the changing needs of an aging loved one can be a hard thing for caregivers to adjust to as well. Especially around the holidays, many families begin to notice the signs that their loved one is no longer able to do the things they used to do.

To help families through some of these changes, we recently created an ebook, 5 Ways to Help Your Aging Loved One This Holiday Season, a free resource designed to provide insight and ideas for making the holidays more enjoyable with your aging loved ones.

One of the best ways to help your loved one is understanding the anxiety that comes with the holiday season. Many times family members get so lost in the preparations and celebrations that they may not even notice the emotions and fears that keep their loved one preoccupied from enjoying their time with family. Take time to consider your loved one's needs and be sure to involve them in the celebrations as much as possible, so they don't feel left out and alone. Here is a short excerpt from our e-book that shares some tips on how to remain sensitive to the needs of your loved one:

Remember that not all environments are user friendly for older adults.

Be sensitive to your loved ones’ abilities and limitations and don’t push them to go places if they are not comfortable. If you do venture out to an unfamiliar place, make sure there are places to sit and rest if needed, and easy access to restrooms... a source of anxiety for many older adults.

If the thought of hitting the mall or even smaller boutique shops for holiday presents causes your loved one angst, try shopping online. Enlist the help of a younger family member or friend to sit with your loved one and purchase gifts over the internet.

Many older adults are fascinated by the technology but don’t have access or experience using it. Not only will your loved one get their shopping done, it might ignite a spark of interest in learning to use an ipad, Kindle or laptop.

Diminished hearing and vision are common reasons older adults use to not join in social gatherings.

Have you ever experienced what it is like to have a hearing or visual impairment?

If you haven’t, give this a try:

  • Glaucoma – glasses blacked out on both sides of each lens (3/4 inch on each side) to demonstrate loss of peripheral vision

  • Macular Degeneration – the middle of the lens should have a round blackened area (3/4 - one inch in diameter)

  • Cataracts – place matte finish scotch tape over the entire lens to demonstrate the blurred vision

  • Total blindness – place black construction paper over the lens and sides of glasses

  • Hearing loss – place cotton balls or ear plugs in your ears

If you can, experiment a little with some of these losses and try to go about parts of your day. Think about how you are reacting, this will give you a better understanding of what it must be like for your loved one to be in a noisy restaurant or at a relative’s home with the football game blaring on the TV.

Many older adults must adhere to strict low salt, low sugar and low cholesterol diets.

Not a lot of fun during the holiday! Talk to your loved one’s physician before the holiday season starts and figure out what exceptions can be made. Sometimes menu planning and portion control are the key.

If your loved one had a “famous” recipe, see what you can do to modify the ingredients to make it healthier. A large variety of vegan substitutes are available to replace dairy products. There are many low-sodium replacement options as well. When baking, cutting the amount of sugar in half may be a good option while maintaining a touch of sweetness.

For those who have lost some of their taste and subsequently some of their appetite, this holiday season try presenting the food on bright or contrasting colored dishware to make it more visually appealing. And add some spice! A little bit of zip can enhance the flavor.

To read more about helping your loved one over the holidays, we encourage you to download the rest of the ebook, 5 Ways to Help Your Aging Loved One This Holiday Season. Learn some tips for starting new holiday traditions, helping your loved one cope with loss, and more. This is a great resource for both caregivers and family members, so be sure to pass it along!

Happy Holidays!!!

5 ways to help holiday ebook

About Marissa Salvesen

My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!

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