According to licensed clinical social worker Robyn Golden, who also directs the health and aging department at Rush University in Chicago, “Although the holiday season is a great time of family and friends gathering together, we should offer older relatives options and ask them what they would like to do, but don’t just assume their limitations.”
Here are 4 tips to help your aging loved one stay healthy this holiday season, while offering them options and encouraging their independence and choices.
1. Make Healthy Choices
From cakes and cookies to mashed potatoes and stuffing, we all know that the holidays are a time of temptation. Sometimes, as I’m sure many of us have experienced, we overindulge in the rich meals we so thoroughly enjoy this time of year. With this in mind, try to plan meals ahead of time so you can keep an eye on you or your loved one’s caloric and sugar/sodium intake. For instance, if you’re going to a New Year’s Eve Party, go for a light lunch of soup and salad earlier in the day. Or to make it easier to follow dietary guidelines, try keeping some fresh fruit or low fat yogurt close, to avoid indulging in too many things we shouldn’t. Another option is planning your own healthy meals for you or your aging loved one or recommending healthy recipes to your friends or family to make.
2. Stay Hydrated
Drinking water is one way for everyone to stay healthy during the holidays. Older seniors, especially, need to drink plenty of fluids both in summer and winter. So try to remind your aging loved one to have a cup of water several times throughout the day. If it helps, leave a note for them in a well-traveled part of their home reminding them to drink some water.
Additionally, holiday celebrations often involve drinking alcoholic beverages. Always remember to have some fun alcohol-free drinks or punches available for those individuals who take certain medications and cannot drink alcohol. For those who can indulge, remember to have water bottles next to the alcohol so they can hydrate with water after finishing their drink.
3. Keep Exercising
Don’t let the stress of the holidays keep you or your aging loved one from maintaining an exercise routine. If you are traveling, try to fit in a walk outdoors (weather permitting) or even walk an indoor mall to substitute for your regular activities. Group up with your loved ones to do a fun and easy, yet engaging exercise routine at home to stay active. This is also a great way to avoid the winter blues and have some great laughs and memories with your friends and family.
4. Rest After Traveling
The holidays are full of traditions for family and friends, which means lots of time spent traveling to see loved ones. Although it may be hard for them to admit, traveling, even short car rides, could be exhausting for aging loved ones. Resting upon arrival is always the smartest decision. Even if your aging loved one says they are fine, suggest a quick “power” nap or just a few quiet minutes with a cup of tea to rejuvenate after a trip. There will be plenty of other time for us to go about the hustle and bustle of the holidays! To learn more about how your aging loved one can alleviate stress this holiday season, read 6 Stress Management Tips for Seniors.
Between family visits, parties and shopping, there is never a dull moment around the holidays. If you or a senior you know has a busy day planned for shopping or a long night of celebrating the holidays, try to find a way to relax for a bit during your travels. Maybe stop for a bite to eat at a local bakery or stop at a café and read the newspaper. Just remember that your to-do list can wait twenty more minutes and that this time of relaxation is important and well worth it. Here are a few more relaxation tips for seniors.
With just a few preventive measures and a willingness to be flexible with scheduling, older adults can stay healthy and still feel included, while having fun with family members and friends during the holiday season. Merry Christmas!
Do you want to learn more about how to help your aging loved one this holiday season? Click here for some great ideas on starting new traditions, understanding anxiety around the holidays, paying close attention to the needs of your aging loved one and so much more...
About Dianne Terrace | MS, CPT
Director, The Wellness Center at Wesley Village. I am an AFAA Certified Personal Trainer who specializes in training older adults and clinical clients. I work with private clients as well as my many clients at the Wellness Center at Crosby Commons, on the Wesley Village Campus in Shelton, CT. I have combined my training in strength and balance work with a modified Pilates Method that I have adapted for older adults. I am also a Certified Yoga Instructor trained by Lara Ward of Lotus Garden Yoga in Sharon, CT and I teach the Ultimate Core Ball Challenge as part of the Yale University Mat Pilates Program.
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.