Be Mindful of Aging Loved Ones During the Holiday Season
According to the American Medical Resource Institute there are more than six million adults over age 65 that suffer from depression. Unfortunately, the holidays only intensify feelings of lonliness, chronic health issues, and many other mental challenges that may face our aging loved ones.
Guess what? LifeLinks helps a lot of families around this time of year. We want to make it easy for the families we work with to be mindful of the needs of their aging loved one around the holidays, so we've put together a list of activities below that you can schedule with our care team, plus some helpful reminders for you.
WHAT LIFELINKS CAN DO TO HELP
Each year we remind ourselves throughout our own busy holiday schedules that this is a stressful time for our clients and their families. We really take time to think about each of our clients, their individual personalities, their living arrangements and family circumstances. This way, our team at LifeLinks can help famillies plan ways to be proactive in addressing their loved one's emotional and spiritual health during the holiday season, as well as their physical health during colder weather and this sometimes stressful season.
The following ways are some ways we have helped families in the past:
- Take them shopping for gifts (even just to Walgreens or from a catalog is empowering for them to choose some or all of the gifts they give)
- Go for a car ride to look at holiday lights
- Sort through holiday cards or picture albums to let them reminisce about family, friends and previous holidays
- Ensure medications are packed and prepared for a day or two away
- Help them buy and prepare a special homemade recipe
- Wrap gifts
- Buy, address, and mail holiday cards
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP
Sometimes it is easy for us to get overwhelmed this time of year and feel guilty. There are only so many hours in the day, and let's just be honest - there are more responsibilities and things to do. The holidays and end of year can be very stressful on caregivers and their loved ones.
- Look for signs of depression - While feeling blue can be normal, depression isn't. It is important for caretakers to look for signs of depressions such as persistent sadness, frequent tearfulness, weight changes, changes in sleep patterns, etc.
- Plan holiday outings - Include your loved one in fun holiday events or call LifeLinks to help you (see below). Caroling, decorating, holiday cards, holiday shopping, cooking - these are all traditions that make the holidays special.
- Encourage reminiscing - Our elders have lived a good life with so many great memories, which ones are their favorites and what do the holidays mean to them. Looking through family photos and past holiday events can help trigger stories.
- Plan quiet time - This goes for you and the relative you are caring for. The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can wear you down in addition to your extra caregiving duties, and it can be disruptive to an elderly person. Take time inbetween events and parties to relax and recharge.
- Don't forget to take care of you - We can't stress enough how important this is. If you are happy and well rested, you are able to successfully care and observe the loved ones around you. Take care of you, depression and stress happens to all ages during the holidays.