How to Make the Most Out of Holiday Visits with Your Elderly Loved One
The holiday season is an ideal opportunity to check up on aging loved ones while enjoying quality family time. Follow these four tips to make the most of every moment.
1. Quietly Observe
If it’s been a while since you last saw your loved one, be on the lookout for changes in his or her health. Signs of physical and cognitive decline may include:
• Weight loss or sporadic eating habits
• Difficulty with movement or balance
• Unkempt personal appearance
• Messes piling up around the house
• Unusual shifts in mood or behavior
If you notice any of these changes, it may be time to consider hiring additional help. In-home caregivers can assist with daily tasks, such as meal prep, housekeeping, prescription reminders, and more when you’re not able to.
2. Make Time for Tradition
Ask your loved one what he or she loves most about the holidays, and plan to do it during your visit. Preparing favorite meals, watching seasonal movies or engaging in traditional family activities can help aging relatives stay focused and relaxed.
Since visits with loved ones who are facing significant health problems can be difficult, it’s important to incorporate activities designed to ease stress and shift everyone’s mindsets to something positive.
3. Share Happy Memories
Depression is common among the elderly around the holidays, especially for those who have lost significant others or can’t travel to see distant family members. Lift the cloud with a fond trip down memory lane. Gather photos and videos from past holidays, and spend time reminiscing about the touching, funny and beautiful moments your family has shared.
4. Avoid Overwhelming your Loved One
The bustle of the holidays can get to be too much for elderly relatives, so make sure they have a quiet place away from the festivities where they can go to rest. If your loved one shows signs of being tired, overwhelmed or frustrated, gently suggest he or she take a break.
Set up a quiet space with some relaxing activities or soft music, and let your loved one disengage for a while until he or she feels up to rejoining the celebration.
During your visits, stay focused on the purpose of the holiday. It’s a season for joy and togetherness, so although checking for changes in your aging loved one’s health is important, don’t put unnecessary stress on yourself. Appreciate the time you have, and head into the new year with a calm, positive outlook.