Holidays can be overwhelming for a senior loved one with dementia or other age-related health conditions. It can also prove uncomfortable for family and friends who want to celebrate the season with them, but are not quite sure how best to do so.
While you may be spending time assisting with ADLs (Activities of Daily Living) and additional personal and health/medical needs, others who aren’t seeing them on a regular basis are very likely unaware of their current heath condition. It is important to shed some light on the situation and let everyone know beforehand what to expect at any upcoming holiday gatherings.
A helpful tip is to send an email to family and friends explaining overall health issues and concerns so others have time to process the situation to better understand what’s happening. Another great tip is to include links to an article or two about the specific things or stages the senior is experiencing. Your loved one may even want to contribute to the email by providing their experience and feelings in their own words – for an even better understanding.
A few other tips to help your senior loved one enjoy the holiday season:
• Keep holiday gatherings small. If you have a large family and circle of friends, try to break up festivities over a few days to a couple of smaller, more casual, quieter gatherings.
• Ask and plan for things they like to do. Sing-a-longs, watching a favorite holiday movie or home movies, baking, or a stroll or drive to see holiday lights and decorations with others.
• Help with holiday primping. Getting dressed up can put a lil pep in anyone’s step. Helping with hair, nails and a special outfit can be uplifting and fun… and all the compliments will have them smiling ear to ear!
• Arrange for downtime. Whether you’re hosting or traveling to others homes, ensure there’s a comfortable space your loved one can go to for a break from the festivities for some rest. Overstimulation can cause agitation. Maintaining a regular schedule is important for mood and overall wellness.
• Practice self-care! Take advantage of having family and friends around to ask for some help. Letting someone else step in for a few hours here and there will not only give you time to relax and recharge, it can also help them understand the situation better and what their loved one and you are going through. It may also turn into some offers of ongoing help and support they didn’t realize was needed.
Many older adults want to be included and involved in holiday celebrations, but not planning ahead and taking their needs and wants into consideration can have a negative effect, dampening holiday spirits. Engage in open communication, practice patience and truly listen to what they have to say and how they feel about the upcoming holidays and events to better ensure a festive time for all!
Our caregivers and residents are looking forward to a fun and festive holiday. We’ve been busy decorating rooms and common areas, enjoying holiday treats, watching Christmas movies and singing carols. And special visits from family and dear friends are always the brightest, shining star! It’s truly the most wonderful time of the year.
Happy, happy holidays from everyone at Eden Estates!