The holidays are upon us and while it’s a joyous, celebratory time for most, it can also be a time of confusion and loneliness for our seniors. Now, more than ever, it’s important to check in and share the love with your elderly friends, family and neighbors, especially those living with memory loss. To prevent holiday blues and maintain a happy and healthy holiday season, we’ve compiled some tried and true tips from our team of caregivers.
Maintain a Focus on Health
It’s important to keep mental and physical health top of mind. Maintain a familiar routine with your loved ones and those you care for. A little celebration is great, but it’s also important to exercise, rest and relax, drink enough water and avoid eating too much unhealthy food. Family celebrations and parties can be fast-paced and chaotic, so you’ll want to remember to keep everyone involved and be aware of their needs, even if it’s just some mental stimulation through stories and activities, or suggesting a nap when you notice fatigue.
Cherish the Memories, Both New and Old
The holidays can drum up a mix of emotions for seniors, and if they have Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, it can be tenfold. Promote togetherness and inclusion as much as possible, and you’ll cherish the new memories you create and those old fond memories that are more pronounced for some family members. Old music, TV shows, and even looking through photos are a great way to trigger fond memories, and photos are also a great way to prepare those with memory loss for family visits over the holidays. Begin showing photos of people they’ll get to see over the holidays for a few days before the event to help build excitement and bring up memories, and make sure those visiting understand that they may need to be calm and patient when visiting someone they haven’t seen in awhile. Things may not be as they used to be, and that’s OK. Memory loss and confusion isn’t intentional… embrace the new normal with open arms!
Reduce Stress in the Home
Make your home accessible when hosting, especially if your loved one has mobility issues. Gauge their comfort levels and ability without putting them on the spot. Come up with a game plan on how to help them get inside your home and move around with ease. This can include removing slippery carpets, creating wider spaces if they are using a walker or wheelchair, seats with armrests, elevated toilet seats and more. If it’s difficult to take your loved one from their home or facility, that’s OK too… why not just schedule time to visit them where they are comfortable and safe?
If you’d like any additional tips or support, our Seniors Helping Seniors, Greater Boston & Metrowest staff are always here to help. Give us a call today at (617) 877-3163.