The holidays are filled with many opportunities for people of all ages to create beautiful memories as they gather with family and friends. This season also brings a few challenges for staying healthy, especially for our beloved senior citizens. This year, consider watching for signs of stress in your loved ones as they navigate the hustle and bustle of this year’s seasonal events. Whether your loved one is traveling, staying home, or throwing a huge family soiree, you can use these strategies to help them stay healthy throughout the holiday seasons.
Simplify Gift Giving
Seniors may stress over the financial impact of the holidays, particularly if they have large extended families, and feel pressured to give gifts to everyone. One way to eliminate this stress is to suggest your family draw names for a gift exchange. Another option is to choose simple but festive crafts you and your loved one can make together (perhaps with the grandkids and/or great grandkids involved) and later give away. Ornaments and handmade cards are always a hit!
Manage Emotional Health Concerns
While the holidays are generally viewed as a happy time of the year, your loved one may feel isolated if he or she has been in poor health or has experienced a loss. They may also be coping with the feelings of loss this time of year can bring. Help the seniors in your life manage their expectations and cope with any feelings of sadness.
One way to do this might be to arrange for extra time with you, other family, or a planned activity during the day. Seeing grandkids can provide a huge emotional lift. Other options include incorporating strategies such as taking long walks together, talking to a professional counselor, or meditating to help shake off any winter doldrums.
Watch Out for Hazards
The risk of fall-related injuries goes up this time of year since seniors are more exposed to weather-related hazards, and may travel to less familiar locations and landscapes. When you arrive at a new location, check for potential hazards such as a sudden step up or ice on the ground so that you can help guide your loved one. You can also look for hazards when you visit someone’s home, such as a cord in the walkway, so that your loved one stays safe.
Many holiday events involve drinking as part of the festivities. While an occasional glass of wine can help us relax, it’s important to encourage your loved one to avoid over drinking since alcohol also weakens the immune system. Why not come up with a few non-alcoholic options, such as spiced apple cider, to entice your loved one? Equally important, watch out for signs of relapse if your loved one has struggled with addiction in the past. If a resurgence of drinking or using drugs does occur, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.
Plan a Balanced Diet
One of the biggest challenges for holiday health is the amount of food served at various events. While you don’t want anyone to feel deprived, you may want to help your loved one maintain their healthy diet plan to help keep their immune system on track. As you prep for meal plans, check out your loved one’s calendar and offer to help them prepare accordingly. (For example, eating a light salad for lunch makes it easier for your loved one to enjoy that piece of pie at dinner without overindulging too much)
Offer A Helping Hand With Party Planning
Helping our beloved seniors sometimes means offering to take over old traditions. While your loved one may have enjoyed throwing huge family parties at their home in the past, they may be exhausted now just thinking about it. Don’t hesitate to talk to them about what they want to do, and offer to help with any planning and preparation or take over the event with their assistance, if that’s what they would prefer to do.
With only a little extra planning, your loved one can enjoy the best of all worlds this holiday season, and, really, is there anything more rewarding than that?