Caregiver Tips for a Successful Holiday Season with Aging Loved Ones
While the holidays are typically associated with good cheer, they can also be stressful -- particularly for older seniors and the people who care for them. Let’s count down four tips designed to help caregivers and their loved ones embrace the spirit of the season and enjoy the true meaning of “Happy Holidays.”
1. Slow Down
Between all of the extra items on your to-do list between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, things can quickly turn frenetic. While you may be consumed by thoughts of cooking, shopping, wrapping, and sending out holiday cards, this stress can quickly carry over to your aging loved ones.
When visiting with your loved one, commit to stepping away from the hustle and bustle and enjoying a quiet moment together. Remember: quality is more important than quantity. If your seasonal commitments mean a shorter visit than usual, let go of your guilt and accept that cutting back may actually lead to more meaningful interactions.
2. Look to the Past
While the holidays are all about looking forward for kids, they represent something different for many older adults. Sharing stories, memories and photographs from the past is a simple yet significant way to spend family time together. While feelings of grief and loss are common, focusing on positive, happy memories can help seniors reconnect with the joys of the season.
3. Make New Memories
While your aging loved one may no longer be able to participate in your usual traditions, this doesn’t mean he won’t enjoy starting some new ones that are within his capabilities. From baking and decorating to sending out cards together, these activities represent a chance to reinforce your bond while sharing in seasonal cheer.
Does your parent have a favorite holiday movie or album? If so, watching or listening together every year is a terrific, stress-free activity which can quickly become a new tradition.
4. Know Their Needs
Many seniors are unable or uncomfortable admitting their needs during the holidays. Keeping open lines of communication can help you better understand your loved one’s feelings in order to accommodate them in the most effective way. Loss of hearing, vision and mobility can all lead to setbacks during the holidays. Maintaining sensitivity to your loved one’s limitations and awareness about his surroundings can ensure that he stays within his comfort zone.
And don’t forget that while it’s easy to lose track of usual routines during this busy time of year, making sure your loved one stays well-rested and hydrated is an important part of ensuring their ongoing health and wellbeing.
While not everyone looks forward to the holidays, caregivers can use these techniques to minimize stress and maximize enjoyment -- both for themselves and for their aging loved ones.
- While your loved one’s abilities may have changed, his ability to share in the joys of the season has not.
- By keeping your loved one’s needs and feelings at the forefront of your holiday planning, you can help him cope with everything from grief over lost loved ones to anxiety about unfamiliar environments.
- Accepting that neither you nor your aging loved one can do everything is an important part of letting go of guilt and enjoying your time together.
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!
Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.