When you can gather all of your family together, holidays are a very special time. But the holidays can seem overwhelming for elderly loved ones and their families. With all the commercialized hype and constant activity during Thanksgiving and Christmas, they’ll probably be wishing for simpler times. Not only that, but the holidays can be especially lonely for senior citizens whose spouses or friends have passed away. With compassion, patience, and a little extra holiday planning with your elderly loved one, you can all feel at home for the holidays.
It’s easier said than done, but don’t sweat the small stuff. Your happiness is contagious for your elderly loved ones, but so is your stress. Focus on putting people over perfection when holiday planning with your elderly loved one, whether that’s cooking, giving gifts, or even traveling. Try to make it as easy as possible for your family to reach you if you’re hosting a holiday dinner, and if your elderly loved one is hosting, offer to cook at his or her place to keep stress at a minimum . Prepare your elderly loved one’s favorite meals and baked goods (with love and a smile, of course) and leave plenty of nutritious leftovers. After all, everyone loves Christmas cookies—no matter how simple they are, they’re always delicious!
Nothing says “holidays” like snowmen, colorful ornaments, and lights. If your loved one has trouble getting around, ask where he or she would like the tree or menorah and which ornaments should go where. You’ll want all the decor to be easily visible to your family member when he or she is seated and looking around the room. Put on happy holiday music while decorating and sing your favorite holiday tunes. Include your loved one (and the kids!) in as much of the decorating as possible, but be aware of their limitations and tendency to tire easily. If he or she is unable to help with decorating, find other ways for him or her to participate in the festivities. For example, your loved one can help you decide which wrapping paper to use or help cut sugar cookies.
Do your best to be empathetic when holiday planning with your elderly loved one, even if your loved one is negative or forgetful. Your loved ones need someone to talk to and to make them feel loved, not like burdens. This can be really challenging, especially if you’re an exhausted caretaker and have trouble hiding your own fatigue. But when you think you’ve run out of patience, keep searching for a little more. Get out the old scrapbooks, and reminisce about the good old days. Ask your family member about any cards or phone calls he or she has received this holiday season. Your time and genuine presence is the best gift in the world to them.
The holidays are a busy time, and there is nothing wrong with calling in family or friends for
backup so you can shop on your own, get a massage, or go on a date with your spouse. Being a caregiver is a beautiful calling, but you can’t forget about the others in your life—or yourself. Taking a quick breather will allow you to enjoy the most wonderful time of the year and help rejuvenate you to come back and be the best caregiver you can be.
For more information about how you can continue caring for an elderly family member, contact Angel’s Senior Home Solutions for the assistance and support your need.