For many reasons, the holidays serve as a reminder of those passed on and how lonely he or she may be today. The holidays may also remind them of their inabilities to participate in celebrations and how they can’t do the things they used to so easily anymore. The struggle that we as caretakers of aging parents have, is to provide a way for our elders to enjoy the holidays, but their circumstances can be a little challenging. The solution is to be present and include your elders by having them participate in as many activities as they can. Make them feel special by including them in holiday planning, dinner preparation, decorating or even filling out holiday cards.
To make sure their holiday season (and yours) stays “merry and bright,” here are seven things to keep in mind when caring for your elders:
Respect your seniors schedule. If they are used to waking up, eating, or going to bed at a certain time, follow their schedule as much as possible. Ask about their agenda before planning your holiday gathering.
Older family members get tired very easily. Limit the number of activities or the length of time they are involved in each activity. Designate a nap area where they can lie down and sleep. Noise and confusion of a large family gathering can lead to exhaustion.
If you are planning to bring the holiday crowd to the home of an older person with memory impairment or behavioral problems, do not rearrange their furniture. This could confuse the person and cause anxiety. Remove any slippery throw rugs and other items that could cause a threat for someone who has difficulty walking or has balance problems.
If an older adult has physical problems, but wants to help with holiday preparations, have them do simple tasks like folding napkins, sorting silverware or handing you the ornaments for the tree.
Reminisce about old memories. This may encourage seniors to share their past experiences with family members of all ages.
Seniors would enjoy new experiences, perhaps a trip to see holiday lights, window shopping or listen to the sounds of the season in the neighborhood.
Remember, not everything will be a delight for them, but don’t fret, giving your elders your time attention and love is their best holiday gift.
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