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A Guide for Caring for Seniors During the Holidays

The holiday season is upon us again, a time that emphasizes giving thanks, and joyful celebrations with family and friends. More than any other time of the year, it can also be a stressful time for seniors and family caregivers. During this time, older adults may feel lonely, and are reminded of loved ones they’ve lost in the past. Family care providers often feel overwhelmed by the stress of holiday planning along with all their daily caregiving tasks.

Seniors can easily fall victim to seasonal depression. Besides a sense of loneliness and loss, patients who have limited mobility may feel isolated by poor weather conditions during the winter months, which can hinder their ability to leave the house. If family members or friends don’t live nearby, this can increase their sense of separation.

Shift the focus

When the loved ones in your care are experiencing signs of holiday depression, you can help them by ‘switching emotional gears.’ Rather than dwelling on thoughts of past losses, the focus can be shifted to positive thoughts, including gratitude for the gift of their life. Rather than mourning past losses, help a loved one find a way to honor their departed. It can be something as simple as lighting a candle while recalling some happy anecdote of that person’s life. Or include a menu item to the daily meal that was a personal favorite, and enjoy it in their honor. These small gestures can create a new holiday tradition that allows the elderly to cherish past memories in a positive way.

Be sure to schedule visits with loved ones or friends during the holiday season. If long distances prevent holiday travel, phone calls can help deter Whether it’s a craft project, a bubble bath, or a meal with friends, indulge yourself. your loved one from feeling alone or abandoned. Check your local community center or faith-based organizations for seasonal events and activities. Scheduled activities will provide a healthy social experience and keep your loved one focused on enjoying these encounters, especially if the event focuses on a hobby or activity he enjoys.

Help your loved one be a volunteer. Local veteran’s organizations, children’s hospitals, and food banks all welcome another set of helping hands, or someone who is willing to spend an hour or two sharing stories and providing companionship to others in need. Feeling helpful and useful can be a wonderful holiday gift!

Share the Load focus

Accepting help is one of the best ways for caregivers to avoid holiday burn-out. You’re already under a lot of stress in caring for your loved one while preparing for the holidays. You can lighten your load and enjoy the season by inviting others to help. Conquer all the seasonal tasks you need to complete by dividing and assigning chores. Help with shopping, meal and preparation and household tasks are good ways to involve family and friends. Instead of a formal holiday dinner, planning a pot luck will reduce your time in the kitchen and allow everyone to share their holiday specialties. By reshaping tasks, such as creating a tree-trimming party or decoration squad, you’re creating fun events that everyone can enjoy, all while checking off your holiday ‘to do’ list.

Travel Safely

With the holiday season’s typically unpredictable weather, it’s important to plan for safe travel. Your goal is to get there safely with as little stress as possible. You can do this by following this simple checklist:

  • Plan your travel route ahead of time. If you’re traveling by car, choose the safest route. Calculate the amount of time you’ll need for arrival, and be sure to give yourself some extra time. Holiday traffic is as unpredictable as the weather.

  • Do a pre-trip safety check. Full tank of gas? Properly inflated tires? Clean windshield to ensure visibility? Wipers working properly?

  • Include travel comfort items for your loved one. Bottled water, a blanket, or a neck pillow can help to make their trip more enjoyable.

Relax and Celebrate

Give yourself a break. Schedule some ‘breathing time’ throughout your day to de-stress. Make sure to schedule time to do something that you enjoy. Whether it’s a craft project, a bubble bath, or a meal with friends, indulge yourself. Taking time to relax and do something that brings you joy can go a long way in making this a happy holiday season for you and your loved one.

Don’t Hesitate to Pick Up the Phone

Everyone needs to reach out sometimes, especially during the stress of the holidays. If you and your family need support, resources or information, call Livanta and let us help. You can speak with our advocates at (844) 249-1786.