While the holidays can be one of the most joyous times of the year, they can also be challenging for seniors.
It’s easy to assume a senior with mobility difficulties doesn’t want to help with dinner preparations, for example, when in fact they really want to be involved and contributing.
With the holidays on the horizon, here are five simple ways to support your loved ones:
- Make visiting easy: Although they may not be as mobile as they once were, it’s important to include seniors in plans as much as possible, while recognizing their limitations, suggests Kathy Tough, owner of Victoria’s Serenity Home Care with husband Murray. For example, if your elderly parent no longer drives, arrange for someone to pick them up, and in a vehicle that’s easy for them to get in and out of.
- Ask seniors about their lives: Seniors are a wealth of life experience and family history and as everyone gathers at the holidays, “it’s an opportunity, especially with grandchildren involved, to ask about how they used to celebrate when they were little and share stories and traditions,” Kathy suggests. “The best gift you can give the elderly is your time.”
- Ask for their help: Does your grandma have a special dish she’s known for? Maybe she can help you prepare it. It’s all about building connections and making sure everyone in the family feels valued.
- Plan for the post-holiday slump: Recognize that after the excitement of the holidays, the new year can be an extremely lonely time for seniors – visiting family have gone home and those nearby are likely busy again with children, school and work. That social isolation can in turn affect seniors’ well-being, mentally, emotionally and physically, and companion services can be vital.
“One of the most significant things we do with many of our clients is simply visit, taking them on outings to the park or library or just for a drive,” Kathy says. “We have one gentleman whose children are both out of town, so we regularly take him for a drive, just so he gets out and gets to see what’s going on.
Another client loves to play bridge, but her eyesight makes it challenging, so her caregiver sits by her side and helps her read the cards.
“It’s supporting their interests and keeping active and doing the things they want to do to,” Kathy says.
- Find peace of mind: For out of town family, having an extra set of eyes also brings peace of mind that an elderly parent is doing well, and awareness when they’re not. Often seniors don’t want to worry their family, so children may not realize that mom isn’t eating so well, or dad’s in pain, Kathy says. “We can be that bridge, providing feedback to the family and support for our client.”