The holidays are a joyous but stressful time for many families. More elderly adults are choosing to live independently longer, and family members and caretakers must make important choices about their daily care. That care doesn’t take a break this time of year. Many families turn to outside home care providers for a little help this time of year. Learn more about services offered in your area by searching our member directory. In addition, a few subtle changes may make all the difference in restoring the magic of the season in your home.
Safety-proof your home to prevent falls and injury.
Inspect your home and remove fall hazards such as loose rugs or lamp and appliance wires that are in the way. De-clutter your rooms of excess furniture and adhere wires safely against baseboards. Most importantly, make sure all walking areas are level. Rent, purchase or borrow equipment to meet their unique needs. Consider bathroom aids like raised toilet seats, grips and handles, bath and shower seats and non-slip mats, or home support equipment like wheelchair ramps or walkers.
Preserve traditions but change your expectations.
Involving elderly family members or guests in familiar traditions can be an enjoyable experience. For example, many people with moderate dementia or Alzheimer’s often surprise family members by rising to the rituals of a social occasion with an unexpected level of attention. You may not be able to do everything you’ve always done. Talk with your family and choose a few traditions that are the most important. Focus on what you will do this year. Remember that you can always do things differently next holiday season. Meals may need to be prepared differently to stay in line with dietary restrictions. Ensure that your meal is universally acceptable for all guests or offer specially-made items for guests with different dietary needs.
Skip the crowds.
Stress and safety concerns can cause the hectic nature of holiday shopping to become an inconvenience — or down-right impossible. Instead of hitting the mall this year, light a cozy fire, brew up a hot beverage and help your elderly loved one purchase holiday gifts from a catalog or online in the comfort and safety of their home. As you browse, take the time to reminisce about favorite gifts past.
Get outside help.
The holidays are hectic enough — give yourself the gift of peace of mind by enlisting the help of a home health care service. Home care agencies can provides a wide array of help essential for your loved ones to enjoy a comfortable and safe holiday in your home. Many members of the Home Care Association of New Hampshire offer assistance caring for complex medical conditions to assisting with meals and transfers. This added help during the holidays could give you and your loved ones that most precious gift, peace of mind at the holidays. Find a member agency near you.
Ask for help in meeting your goal.
Involve other family members or friends in cooking, baking, decorating, shopping or sending cards. Not only does this reduce your stress, but it provides you and your loved one with good socialization. Write down tasks that need to be completed so you can be specific when people offer to help. And remember that some things can be left undone!
If family traditions have lost their luster, choose something that is inclusive and low-stress. Instead of seeing “The Nutcracker” at a local playhouse, buy a version of the musical on DVD, bake some holiday treats, and invite the family over for movie night! If you’re looking for an activity that your aging parents can participate in without the entire family, the senior center in your area may coordinate caroling, cooking or gift-wrapping events that will get your loved one out of the house and engaged in the community.
Prepare family and friends before getting together.
Let them know how their loved one has changed due to their disease or condition. Give them ideas on how best to communicate with them and what they can expect. Offer suggestions about gifts. Give friends and family ideas of useful gifts they can purchase for their loved one such as music CD’s, photo albums, comfortable clothing, videos or book tapes. Don’t forget your own wishes, too! Gift certificates for dining out, massage or spa treatments and laundry or cleaning services are some ideas of gifts for the caregiver.
Keep the needs of your loved one in mind.
For those dealing with memory loss, remember that distant memory stays intact the longest and plan activities accordingly , avoiding new games or activities . Some victims of stroke have lost the ability to feed themselves and may find it uncomfortable to eat in front of guests. Perhaps an afternoon of looking at old slides or photos and reminiscing would be more appropriate than sharing a meal. Schedule gatherings during the day rather than in the evening since symptoms often are worse in the evening.
Home Care Traveling Tips:
The holiday season is filled with food, fun and sometimes traveling to visit family or friends. If your elderly loved one is visiting or traveling, you want to be certain they make it to their destination safe and sound. The following are useful tips for keeping your loved one safe and on schedule during this travel season.
- Pack Responsibly. If your loved one has limitations on how much weight they can carry, try to pack clothing in a rolling bag instead of a shoulder bag. Reducing the physical strain from their body will reduce risk for a fall or injury. If your loved one will be mobile on their trip, pack appropriate shoes to keep them steady while moving around.
- Manage the Meds. It is important to take all required medications at home and while traveling. Write down instructions for: dosage, frequency and times. All medications and emergency contacts should be packed in a carry-on bag that will travel with your loved one and remain accessible.
- Leave Early. Whether standing in line at airport security or sitting in traffic, the wait can be stressful. In order to make it to your destination on time, remind your loved one to leave as early as possible. If the weather may present an obstacle, plan out extra time to avoid rushing and stressing.
- Prepare the Travel Arrangements. If your loved one will need assistance getting on or off the airplane, special seating on the bus, or advanced boarding on the train, make arrangements ahead of time. To avoid confusion and unnecessary delays, ask travel assistants to be available at the point of entrance and exit for your loved one.
- Ask for Help. To ensure safe travels, many of our members offer personal care assistants to accompany and assist clients on their trips. Whether for an over-night stay, a week away, or 24/7 for several months, help is available.
Primary caregivers, often with the additional responsibilities of work or children of their own, have limited time and ability to provide daily care. Many turn to outside home care providers for help. Learn more about services offered in your area by searching our member directory.
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- AARP Focuses on Caregiver Stress at the Holidays
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