The holidays can be a challenging time for individuals, spouses and families as they bring out the good and the bad in all of us. Advanced planning, especially if there are older adults involved, will help promote a positive holiday experience for everyone.
Managing Holiday Melancholy: This is a very common response to the holidays. If a family member is feeling blue it is best to acknowledge the feeling and explore some of the reasons behind the feelings with them.
Planning a Holiday Schedule/Travel: If travel is a necessity for the holidays build in plenty of time and map out stops to ensure food and bathroom breaks. Make sure you have a comfortable vehicle. A direct flight may be a necessity or a layover with plenty of time depending on the needs of a family member. Some families hire a home health aide to assist with car or air travel. It is important not to disrupt the schedule of eating , taking medications and sleeping; it can take a long time for an older person to re-adjust.
The Holiday Meal: There are a few things that one can do to ensure a successful holiday meal experience for an older family member. The first has to do with seating arrangements, it is best if the older adult can be seated in a location where they can get to the bathroom or a quiet place with as little disruption as possible. It is also helpful to have a designated dinning partner who can sit next to the person to assist with any needs they may have. To help facilitate conversation limit the amount of background music or noise which can be particularly annoying if the person is wearing a hearing aide and use the person’s name when addressing them. Providing a contrast between the tableware and the background (table or table cloth) will help facilitate the proper use of items. When necessary, prepare the person’s plate ahead of time in the kitchen if food needs to be cut, or a restricted diet is needed or finger foods are appropriate. Remember to be aware of alcohol consumption at family gatherings. Older adults may be taking medications that do not mix well with alcohol and may increase the effects of a drink. Also, the metabolism and body weight of an older person may result in being affected by more than one drink. If you are dinning out in a restaurant or at a friend’s home and they are not aware of the limitations of you family member, give them a heads up before the event with some helpful suggestions.
Submitted by: Senior Care Management, http://www.seniorcaremgt.com