Holidays can be both a joyful and a stressful time for all of us, no matter what stage of life we’re in. But as a family member ages, it can become more and more difficult to continue the family traditions everyone expects, and at the same time ensure that our elderly loved one’s physical and emotional needs are taken into account. Caregivers often struggle with how to juggle events that can be highly stressful, confusing and even depressing for an elderly family member with the needs and expectations of others.
Situations will vary based on the health issues and mobility of your elderly family member, but these 10 tips could help all families and the elderly person they care for find more joy in the holiday season:
- Simplify your holiday. Caregivers with young families have a lot on their plates during the holidays. An “I want to do it all” attitude can bring on a lot of stress. Simplify routines and modify traditions by making a list of all your chores and eliminating those that aren’t truly necessary.
- Plan ahead. If older family members tire easily or are vulnerable to over-stimulation, limit the number of activities they are involved in or the length of time they are included. Designate a “quiet room” for them and schedule time there for a break, when necessary.
- Modify festivities to accommodate limitations. Be conscious of potential difficulties with an event or holiday plans for someone with physical or emotional challenges. Find a way for them to be included safely or get them involved in something else during that time.
- Ask your loved one about their memories. Older people whose memories are impaired often can share stories and observations from the past. Use picture albums, family videos and music to help stimulate memories and encourage seniors to share their stories and experiences.
- Create new memories. In addition to familiar traditions, add something new to this year’s holiday celebration. Enjoy activities that are free and easy to do, such as taking a drive to look at outdoor holiday decorations or enabling a visit with an old friend.
- Plan how you will pass along holiday traditions. Use the time together for new ways of storytelling and recording family traditions. Think of new ways to record the stories and memories that your parents hold dear.
- Find ways to celebrate holidays long-distance. If circumstances prevent you from being with your aging parents for the holidays, use your imagination and technology to involve them in what you’re doing. Hold “virtual get-togethers” via Zoom or Facetime. Talk or even sing together.
- Acknowledge feelings of grief. Your parents might be missing long-time friends that have died. You may have feelings of sadness because they are aging, and things are slowing down. Accept that grieving is personal and takes different forms for everyone.
- Avoid embarrassing moments. Try to avoid making comments that could embarrass an older family member who may be experiencing short-term memory or other problems. For example, if they forget something, don’t say, “Don’t you remember?” Just repeat what was said and go on.
- Monitor medications and alcohol. Help seniors adhere to their regular schedule of medications during the chaos of the holidays. Also, pay attention to their alcohol consumption during holiday parties and family gatherings. It can illicit inappropriate behavior or interfere with medications.
If you need extra help with your loved one during the holidays, contact us any time for help with whatever challenges you’re facing. We are here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Simply complete the form here or call us at (877) 691‑0015.