Can you believe we are already more than halfway through October? Before you know it, it will be Thanksgiving, and then we’ll be fully into the holiday season. For some, that means parties, get-togethers, fun times with family and friends, and time to reconnect with people that we may not get to see throughout the year…

For others, it’s a time of sadness, loneliness, depression, and stress. Finding ways to celebrate while dealing with these feelings, as well as health issues, can be challenging, especially for those who are homebound, or just have trouble with mobility in general.

We want to help you, and your loved ones, make the most of this holiday season. That’s why we put together this guide to help you and those you care about not only survive, but thrive this holiday season!

  1. Watch for signs of depression: This is one thing often overlooked or ignored, but can be the most devastating. While the holidays can be filled with joy, connection and happy memories, it can also trigger sadness, memories of loss, and low feelings of self-worth. Be aware of these signs, and address them. If you are feeling these things, you have the opportunity to seek help. If it is a loved one, be empathetic, and show that you are there to help and support them. Encourage them to seek help or, if possible, help them by reaching out to a professional on their behalf. Most important is that you are not alone, and there is help. 
  2. Be Flexible: This applies to changes in dietary needs, health considerations, mobility concerns, and weather. Older adults may have a more restrictive diet than in prior years, based on recommendations from their doctor, or any existing health conditions. Be sure to take this into account with any meal preparation. Also, health considerations must be taken into account. This not only applies to the menu, but also seniors may have special medical equipment they need to use/have available, or other medical needs over and above previous years. They may need a cane, walker, or wheelchair to get around, and this needs to be addressed wherever the visit is taking place, if in someplace other than their own residence. The weather also has to be monitored, as seniors often get cold quicker than those who are younger, and may need additional blankets, coats and/or the heat adjusted. Be mindful of these changes in situation, and be flexible and accommodating. 
  3. Adjust the Menu: Going along with being flexible in dietary considerations, you may need to look at the overall menu as well. That traditional meal that you have been enjoying for years as a family, may be overwhelming for seniors as they age. It may be time to make adjustments to the menu, or call in reinforcements to help with the preparation, to share the burden of preparing a large meal. If multiple family members help in the kitchen, or bring food already prepared from home, it will lessen the burden on the senior(s) who have felt it their obligation to prepare the family meal over the years. It can give them the opportunity to pass the proverbial torch of the meal prep…
  4. Virtual Visits: Sometimes an in-person visit is just too much, either for the senior or for the family, or both, whether due to time, distance or transportation. With today’s technology, you can use Skype, Facetime, or any number of virtual video platforms to connect with your loved one(s), when you just can’t be there in person. If the senior(s) have trouble with the technology, see if there is someone close to them in their location who can give them a hands-on tutorial, or even help them at the time of the call. There is no reason you can’t have a fun, engaging virtual visit with your loved ones and catch up on your busy lives.
  5. Maintain Routine: During the craziness of the holiday season, it’s difficult to maintain routines. This can cause stress for older adults, especially if there is a lot of activity and noise. Be absolutely certain to maintain their/your medicine schedule. It can cause serious health issues if certain medicines aren’t taken on schedule. Aside from the medicine routine, try to help your loved ones maintain some semblance of their daily routine, just to help their comfort level.
  6. Walk Down Memory Lane: Older adults like to revisit old memories, traditions and happy times. It may give them the opportunity to connect with some of the younger members of the family as they get to hear stories from when Grandma or Grandpa was their age…It is also a great time to create some new memories! When you can’t recreate the old, it’s time to create the new, and start a new tradition that they can participate in and enjoy.
  7. Simplify: Does the idea of dragging out 10 boxes of decorations fill you with dread? What better time to simplify the traditions? Now is the time to pick the decorations that bring you the most joy. You don’t have to compete with the neighbors for the most elaborate holiday theme, you can pick your favorites and just put those out. Discover the joy of the season when you focus on the people in your life, and reduce the material decorations. Doesn’t the idea of simplifying just make you feel better?
  8. Allow for Quiet Time: The holidays, with all of the fun and excitement, can also be quite loud, especially for older adults. Be sure you give them a quiet place to get away from the craziness for awhile. They may want to take a nap, or just sit quietly, or even read or do another activity. Whatever it is, it’s imperative to their mental health to have that time to unwind, and just sit and be still. 
  9. Enjoy Time Together: Now is your chance to set aside time to reconnect and just have a quiet conversation with your loved ones, it may be the one time of year you get that opportunity. Set aside an evening, an afternoon, a morning…whatever time you can, to just sit and talk with your older relatives or loved ones. It may give you insight into how they’re feeling (reflecting back to #1), you can talk about enjoyable memories of theirs or memories you share. Just take the time to have those conversations that seem to get pushed aside in our busy daily lives, and use the spirit of the holiday season to catch up on everything that’s going on in their lives.
  10. Ask for Help: We all need help at some point, and we generally all struggle with asking for that help. Maybe you can ask for help from other relatives or friends, or your loved one’s friends. In some cases, however, that is uncomfortable, and even worse, unreliable. That’s why there are resources such as Silver Companions to help provide that much needed support to help keep your loved ones safe and comfortable in their own homes. Contact us for a complimentary consultation, where we will review your situation with you, and help determine what level of care is right for your unique situation. There is absolutely no obligation, we are here to help alleviate some of the stress around caring for loved ones that are less independent than they once were. 

Hopefully you got some valuable takeaways from this post, and you can put them into practice this upcoming holiday season. The most important thing to keep in mind, especially during the holidays, is to focus less on presents and spending more time being present.  Our time and our loved ones are our most precious gifts, and while we should be mindful of this all year long, it is during this joyous holiday season that we should make the time to enjoy these moments.

If you need help, for yourself or for your aging loved ones, don’t go through it alone. Reach out to us. We are here to help, to help you eliminate some of the stress in your life, to take some of the pressure off that is weighing you down. There is never any obligation. We will talk through your situation, and if there is a way for us to help, we will work with you to make sure it fits you and your loved one’s needs.