Make the Holidays Brighter for Senior Loved Ones Near and Far

The holiday season can be a difficult time for senior citizens. It can range from sadness over the loss of loved ones and friends to anxiety over not being able to purchase gifts for their families. Senior citizens in a nursing home or even in their own homes may not be able to leave and are saddened to miss out on traditions. Whatever your situation is, this guide will provide you and your family with tips on how you can celebrate the holidays together.

For many senior citizens, the holidays are not about receiving gifts, bur rather, being able to spend time with their family and friends. Schedule time with your family and friends for activities like attending church, getting together for a party, or simply going out to eat. For families with loved ones in a nursing home, talk to their healthcare provider to see if they can leave the facility. If not, plan a visit that could include decorating their room or exchanging gifts.

If you are not able to see your loved ones this holiday season, take advantage of technology if you are able to. Applications like FaceTime or Skype allow you to video chat with your family and friends. Email and texting are also great ways to stay connected with them. Family members can ensure their loved ones feel remembered during the season by sending them gifts or a catered meal on the holiday.

DailyCaring, LLC, a caregiver website, offers some excellent tips on how senior citizens can celebrate the holidays. Some suggestions include Christmas crafts like wreath making, board and card games, baking cookies, and sending holiday cards. Senior citizens interested in more physical activities may enjoy going to see holiday decorations or lights displays, as well as attending productions like A Christmas Carol or The Nutcracker.

A Place for Mom, a senior care website, also offers excellent tips on how senior citizens can enjoy the holidays with loved ones. They coined CHEER, a helpful acronym, to help families engage with their older relatives during the holiday season:

C stands for check on their well-being: Be sure to visit your loved one or check in often by phone. 

H stands for help them stay engaged: Invite your loved one to holiday parties and assist them with activities such as shopping or decorating.

E stands for empower them to live independently: Many senior citizens still crave independence even if they require assistance with certain things. You can help them in obtaining a home health aide, meal delivery services, or a medical alert system.

E stands for enjoy your time together: Above all, make sure your loved one is having fun when you visit with them.

R stands for reminiscing with your loved one: Many senior citizens enjoy telling tales about the old days. Allow them to share fond memories of their favorite holiday traditions. If possible, pull out old family photo albums they can share with younger relatives.

Remember that the holidays bring out many emotions among all of us. Seniors have a lifetime full of memories and experiences that they reflect upon during the holiday season –  it’s not too late to help them create new meaningful memories.


How to Communicate With Your Relative’s Home Care Agency

So, you’ve decided to enlist an in-home care agency to help your relative manage day-to-day tasks. If your loved one has been struggling, this is a great decision. But as the gatekeeper between the agency and your relative, it’s your job to make the transition easier and set the home care agency and their managed caregiver up for success. This generally boils down to effective communication.

Begin By Setting Clear Expectations

Sit down with the agency and discuss the type of care that’s needed from the agency caregiver. Will the caregiver be expected to be on call overnight? How many errands and outside tasks does your relative need done each week? And what type of medical considerations does your relative have that may affect the caregiver’s ability to complete these tasks? Line out each of these issues ahead of time so there are no surprises.

Create a “Personality Diagnosis”

Nobody knows your relative better than you. If your loved one is struggling with common issues like dementia or other types of mental degeneration, you’ll be well aware of how erratic their moods can be. Let the in-home care agency know about these issues ahead of time by creating a personality diagnosis for them:

·       Pertinent medical issues;

·       Day-to-day moods;

·       History of depression, aggression, or confusion;

·       Common problems that may trigger mood swings.

You won’t be able to predict everything, but this type of rundown can be a great way to prepare the agency and agency caregiver on what to expect.

Keep Information Readily Available

Naturally, you’ll want to keep all necessary information available to the agency so that they can communicate with the managed caregiver:

·       List and schedule for medications;

·       Standard and emergency contact numbers;

·       List of food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances;

·       Medical providers and nearby clinics;

·       Preferences for food or activities;

·       Unique challenges or issues affecting your loved one.

Particularly in the early stages of your in-home agency and caregiver relationship, these resources will help get the agency and managed caregiver familiar with your relative and ease the transition for both sides.

Be Up Front About Your Concerns

You’re having some trouble caring for your relative, and that’s okay. It’s the whole reason you’re hiring in-home help, after all. But make sure you let the in-home care agency know about these concerns ahead of time—even if the concerns are about the caregiver him/herself!

Your goal is to make the transition as easy as possible for both your relative and the in-home care agency, a process that goes down much more smoothly when everyone is direct and asks questions as needed.

Document Everything

When working with in-home care agencies, it’s important to document everything that happens. Of course, this means documenting records of medication intake and schedules for when your agency caregiver is on call, but it also means documenting episodes of confusion, daily food intake, medical concerns from day-to-day, and any other information that’s out of the ordinary.

Above All, Listen!

Don’t forget to listen to the feedback your in-home care agency caregiver provides! This relationship should be a two-way street where you both feel comfortable sharing issues. After some time, you’ll likely find your agency caregiver has identified particular problems or day-to-day challenges that you didn’t anticipate.

Work with the agency and caregiver on these problems and try to improve your relationship every day. This is the best way to improve the quality of care for your loved one—and to ensure that you, your relative, and the in-home care agency and caregiver are all happy with your new arrangement.