The holidays can be a stressful time for those with even the most rock-solid constitution. Many of us fail to acknowledge the increase in stress levels that the holidays can inflict on senior family members.
We arrange trips and visits with family members who don’t otherwise get to spend time with the elders during other times of the year. Despite our best intentions, however, this can add up to a major overload that can be exhausting for our beloved elders.
Some seniors can also experience holiday depression, which can complicate things emotionally. Fortunately, there are a few things we can keep in mind to mitigate the stress imposed on our beloved seniors.
Keep activities manageable
We’ve all experienced that feeling of holiday burnout. It’s important to keep in mind that seniors often reach this threshold much earlier in the experience than others.
Keeping visits and social engagements to a minimum is critical to preventing exhaustion. This is especially applicable when taking elder family members out for shopping excursions. Minimizing the errands that one attaches to the front or back ends of these outings and keeping our focus on the task at hand can help ease the stress and fatigue.
Allowing ample time for rest and recovery between activities is crucial to maintaining a healthy level of engagement.
Include seniors only in activities that are appropriate for their ability to participate.
It’s not always possible to limit activities to those which will not be overly stressful for our senior family members. Therefore, it’s important to distinguish between those that meet these criteria and those that don’t. Plan accordingly.
All-day mall excursions, for example, could prove so exhausting for a senior that he or she may not recover fully for the remainder of the holiday. Planning activities around elders’ ability to participate without being overwhelmed will help ensure that they can be involved throughout the holiday season.
Honor existing schedules when planning
Regularity and consistency in rest and dining schedules help seniors keep up amidst the holiday stress.
Be sure to plan activities around existing scheduled times for these staple activities. When scheduling visits, try not to allow them to disrupt the established patterns of sleeping and eating. This will help your senior loved ones feel less up-ended by the flurry of activity.
Keep expenditures under control
Many seniors exist on fixed incomes with little wiggle-room for discretionary spending. This can be a sensitive issue for proud patriarchs and matriarchs who may feel a continuing obligation to provide financially for the family.
Keeping expenses manageable, not allowing seniors to overextend financially, and allowing them to maintain dignity, can be a delicate balance. But it’s a balance that we should all consider carefully during the holidays.
Help seniors feel included
Seasonal depression can hit seniors hard. This can be especially true for widows / widowers, or those who have lost loved ones close to them. Visitations from family are often the best medicine to counter these feelings of loneliness.
Be sure to include elder loved ones wherever it’s reasonable to do so. Encourage other family members and close friends to stop by for visits. It can be the difference between full engagement and varying levels of withdrawal by our elder loved ones. Even seniors who are receiving top-level professional elder care need to feel included in family structure.
It’s often the responsibility of grown children to ensure that our senior family members don’t feel excluded or neglected. With a little smart planning and discussion with other family members and care providers, this can be managed in a way that keeps everybody’s stress levels to a minimum, allowing for holiday joy and merriment.
Feel free to contact us today if you would like more information on how our certified care managers can help you and your loved one.