Oh, the holidays! That time of year when families get together, eat far too much and all is merry and bright in the world. It’s important to remember that the holidays, although a special time, can also be difficult for some. The elderly may struggle with the holidays and it’s important to be mindful of their feelings.
While Thanksgiving is a joyous time for many, seniors can often experience the “holiday blues”. Seasonal depression can also have a significant impact on the elderly as they reminisce about their loved ones who are no longer with them. Family members and caregivers should pay special attention to the body language, demeanor, and mood of seniors during the holidays.
The holidays can be stressful and depressing for someone that is dealing with mental and emotional needs. To be mentally present for family gatherings can be exhausting for anyone, let alone a senior. Also, if someone is struggling with dementia or memory loss, they could be embarrassed or uncomfortable in social settings. Here are some tips to best ensure your loved ones have a happy, safe, and joyful Thanksgiving holiday.
Be mindful of the time. A day-long event may be too much for a senior. Perhaps take care of the shopping and running around before they arrive.
Limit options. Seniors with Alzheimer’s or other dementias may have a difficult time making decisions. They can often feel overwhelmed or confused. Try to limit the options for everyone as this will hopefully help make the holidays less stressful on everyone, even the host!
Clearly Communicate. Make sure everyone knows the plan. Surprises and unknown events could create anxiety and unwanted emotions.
Keep a calendar. Encourage the seniors in your life to write important events on their calendar rather than rely on memory. Be sure to enter these dates in a shared calendar or place where others can see it.
Make sure they feel included. Oftentimes, seniors are invited to events and sit in the corner by themselves and feel invisible. One helpful tip is taking turns sitting with your senior family members and getting the whole family involved.
Bring a caregiver. If your loved one already has a caregiver, this is a great opportunity to include them in the festivities. The caregiver is already familiar with your loved one so it’s almost as though they are bringing their friend. The caregiver can attend to them and ensure they are in a healthy state of mind and having a great time.
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