The holidays can be hard for those with chronic or age-related illness. And holidays are hard for friends and family members, too. Following are some ways to make a merrier Christmas.
If your family traditions involve travel or other activities that are too strenuous for your loved one, consider creating new traditions that everyone can participate in. Baking, easy decorating activities, holiday crafts, and having friends and neighbors drop in for small gatherings can be simple and effective ways to bring manageable holiday spirit to your loved one. These types of festivities are also great ways to involve grandchildren as well.
Check with staff if your loved one resides in an assisted living community to see if they are hosting any holiday activities. Even when family is nearby, many caregivers encourage elders who live in senior housing to participate in onsite activities to alleviate the stress involved in attending family gatherings. Leaving the familiarity of senior housing can be very disorienting for seniors who are living with progressing cognitive decline. Instead, arrange for family to visit or accompany your elder to the facility’s event(s) as part of your new holiday traditions together.
The holidays can trigger feelings of depression, so it's important to focus on how the holiday season can bring memories of happier times. Activities like watching home movies together or looking through old pictures can be a nice way to remember those times and help alleviate feelings of loneliness in an ill or aging loved one. Reminiscing can be an enjoyable activity for everyone and a valuable way of sharing memories and family history with younger generations.
If an ill or aging loved one lives far away, or if an in-person visit truly doesn’t seem possible this year, make sure you plan ahead to ensure they will not be spending the holidays alone. If your loved one is living on their own, try to see if one of their neighbors might be able to visit with them.
This might also be the time to consider hiring in-home care, even if the arrangement is only temporary. If your loved one will be alone this season, look for a reputable agency that provides professional caregivers who are specially trained to meet all of your loved one’s needs with compassion and dignity. Most agencies can accommodate either shorter visits or extended stays, and some can also provide aides to safely escort an adult to celebrations and family gatherings during the holidays. Look for a professional caregiver who is a good fit for your loved one, both personality-wise and in terms of their training and professional skills. The right caregiver will be able to assist with activities of daily living and provide companionship, activities, and emotional support.
Holiday traditions and activities can be adapted in countless ways, with flexibility being the key. The most important thing is for your loved ones to know that you are thinking about them and that you are committed to helping them feel included in the season's festivities.
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Next Level Nursing Solutions owner Misty Gardner is a Registered Nurse who understands all sides of nurse staffing.