Thanksgiving is just a day away. While the holiday is meant to remind us of all that we should be thankful for, it can also be a difficult time for both seniors and family caregivers. Many seniors may feel lonely or reminded of people they may have lost in the past. Family caregivers may feel overwhelmed by the stress of holiday planning stacked up with their normal caregiving routines.
It’s important not to let stress ruin the holidays for you or your loved ones so here are a few holiday caregiving tips from our team.
Plan Healthy Meals
Many seniors do not eat balanced meals often enough. When preparing meals for seniors over the holidays, be sure to plan meals that are healthy. Just because Thanksgiving is centered around a festive family feast does not mean healthy eating habits should be ignored. If your loved one is on a special diet, encourage your loved one to continue watching their salt, sugar or fat intake by providing healthy meal options. If you are not responsible for preparing meals for your loved one and aren’t dining with them, be sure to arrange a special plan for your loved one to eat a healthy meal in company. Many senior centers in Grand Rapids and the west Michigan area have Thanksgiving dinner celebrations that may be a great option for your loved one.
Dealing with Depression
Seniors can have mixed feelings over the holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas may remind them loved ones they’ve lost or invoke a feeling of loneliness. Poor weather conditions during the winter months can cause seniors to feel even more isolated if they have difficulty leaving the home. Be sure to schedule regular visits with your loved one during the winter months. If you cannot spend the Thanksgiving holiday with them, make sure to have family and friends call to wish them a happy holiday. Engaging in conversation on a regular basis is important so that your loved one doesn’t feel lonely or abandoned if you live long distances apart.
Accept Help When Offered
Thanksgiving begins the season of family gatherings. Keep the time spent together enjoyable by accepting help from other family members when you can. You may be under a lot of stress in preparing for the holidays while taking care of aging loved ones. These responsibilities can be especially daunting when tasked with hosting the get together. Often times family members will offer to help in some way when preparing for the gathering. Accepting help in caring for your loved one during the holidays can help the holiday celebrations run smoothly and prevent you from burning out. Not to mention, a little break here and there for yourself will allow you to enjoy the holiday as well.
Practice Safe Travel
During the holidays, we often need to travel in bad weather to spend time with family members. Be sure to practice safe travel during the holiday season. Here are some tips to reduce stress during holiday travel for seniors:
- Plan your route ahead of time if driving. Pick the safest route for arriving at your destination in a timely manner. Sometimes, this means avoiding busy roads and taking the long way to avoid high traffic areas. Have a backup plan or map available at all times.
- Be sure to have a full tank of gas. Never risk running out of gas in poor weather conditions. Be diligent about filling up your tank when traveling over the holidays.
- Make driving arrangements for your loved one if they cannot drive themselves safely, If your loved one cannot safely drive in poor weather conditions or during the night, arrange for them to picked up and safely transported to family gathering. If you or another family member cannot pick them up, Elders’ Helpers has caregivers that can provide safe transportation.
Don’t Forget to Celebrate
Thanksgiving is one of our nation’s favorite holidays and should not bring about any unnecessary stress on the family caregiver or your elderly loved one. Above all, be sure to have fun together and give thanks for all you have.
From our family to yours, we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!
If your family could use additional help during the holidays for your aging loved one, Elders’ Helpers has caregivers available 24/7. Call us at any time to speak with one of our client coordinators at (616) 454-8305.