The holidays are a time of cheer, family gatherings, delicious food, and love. But they also bring changes to routines, decor, diet, and more. For some, these changes can pose safety concerns and make the holiday season stressful. We would love to share some tips on how to help your senior loved ones have a safe and happy holiday season!
Top Challenges to Holiday Safety
Some of the biggest challenges relating to safety for seniors during the holidays are listed below.
- Traveling alone
- Disrupted routine
- Missed medications
- Unhealthy diet
- Time spent sedentary
- Expense of gifts
- To much activity (not enough time for rest) (Care.com)
So now that we are aware of some of the top concerns, how can we help our seniors have a safe holiday season? Below are some good tips.
Mental and Emotional Health
Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s can, and should, be happy and celebratory for all involved. But for some, these holidays come with increased loneliness and depression. Being away from family, missing loved ones who have passed on, being unable to celebrate as they once did, and other thoughts can steal the cheer out of the holidays for some seniors.
Caregivers can help by encouraging social activity and connection to family members, even through technology like Face Time, Skype, and other forms for video chat if available. Help seniors be involved and welcomed into holiday activities like decorating, baking, selecting gifts, making crafts, and wrapping presents. Reminisce with seniors about traditions and memories and listen and sympathize with them about what they are feeling. Remind them of faith and values. (Senior Matter)
Memory related issues and breaks in routine can also be problematic. Write down schedules and changes and set up automatic reminders as needed.
All know that the holidays bring large meals, new foods, and delicious desserts. Not all foods are safe for some seniors to eat due to dietary and health restrictions. That doesn’t mean going without though. Caregivers can help seniors have a healthy holiday season through the following tips. Learn diet needs for your seniors and help make healthy versions of holiday food favorites if possible. Maintaining routines is also helpful to ensure seniors have a safe season. Help seniors maintain medication schedules around holiday events by setting reminders, ensuring they take needed medications with them to visits and events. Encourage seniors to take time to rest during the day around events and make sure they don’t over-extend themselves.
Holiday Travel Safety
Visiting loved ones during the holidays is one of the greatest sources of joy to many people. But traveling, either alone or with a companion, can be very hard on seniors. Below are some helpful tips to ensure travel happens safety and easily.
- Speak to a doctor prior to travel about health concerns
- Ensure there is enough medication to cover the time away, take into account time zone changes on medication schedules. Carry them on the plane or in the car to reduce risk of loss or emergency needs
- Talk to doctor and see if wearing compression socks if flying or spending long times in the car is recommended
- Bring copies or important documents
- Health insurance
- Physician contact information
- Health issues list
- Medication and allergies lists
- Emergency contact numbers
- Ensure loved ones have a copy of travel itineraries
- Wear a medical ID if needed
- Use hand sanitizer and wash hands often
- Ask for an escort or wheelchair, if needed, to navigate airports safely
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated (Health in Aging)
Keeping our seniors safe doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy the holiday season with them. Some ideas for fun holiday activities are: make a wreath, stocking, or other deocrations, reminisce about the past and talk about tradition origins, listen to holiday music, prepare favorite foods, connect with loved ones, pick out presents and cards, go for a walk/drive and look at holiday decorations, watch a holiday classic movie. The ideas are to numerous to list! Ask your senior what would make their holiday special and spread the cheer. (DailyCaring)
Safe @ Home wishes you all a happy and safe holiday season!