Staying healthy during the holidays can be challenging, especially when there are lots of activities to participate in and meals tend to be filled with sweet treats. Even though the shopping excursions and dietary changes during the holidays bring joy they could also potentially be disruptive for seniors. Here are five ways to help ensure that seniors enjoy a happy and healthy holiday season.
1.Provide Healthy Snack Options. The holidays can often be a time to indulge in food. To offset the decadent foods and goodies people eat during this time of year, be sure to offer healthy snack options too. This can be anything from almonds or walnuts covered with cinnamon or holiday spices, to bowls of seasonal fruit such as fresh cranberries. You can also serve lighter meals (such as soup or chili made with ground turkey) throughout the day when you know a big dinner is planned for the evening. You still want your loved ones to be able to enjoy their favorite foods at this time of year, so the key is trying to provide balance in the meals surrounding those big holiday feasts.
2. Drink Lots of Water. It can be easy to forget to drink water amid the hustle and bustle of the holidays. However, staying hydrated is essential to remaining healthy. You can help protect the seniors in your life by making sure water is easily accessible for them. If an elderly adult is coming to stay with you for the holidays, make sure you keep their room stocked with water bottles. Additionally, make sure you have water bottles available in the car and your purse while running those holiday errands or going to family gatherings.
3. Exercise. The cold weather can make us want to stay cozy inside and may make the thought of exercise seem daunting. Exercise doesn’t need to involve an intense routine though – even just a simple walk around the block can provide mental and physical benefits for seniors. Walking around the neighborhood can also allow you and your loved one to have some quality time together, enjoying Christmas lights or other sights of the season. If it is too cold and snowy to go for a walk outside, consider going to the mall and walking a few laps around your favorite stores. Staying active and keeping your body moving at a calm rate is a great way to help your parents and grandparents stay healthy.
4. Get Plenty of Rest. Try to make sure that your loved one has time to rest during the day and gets a good night’s sleep in the evening. Maintaining a good sleep schedule and regular bedtime is very important, especially for seniors who may get tired and worn out more easily during this time of year. If your parent or grandparent has traveled a long way to see you, it is even more critical that you find time for them to rest throughout the day. Once your loved one has arrived, offer to watch a holiday movie, enjoy a cup of hot cocoa, listen to Christmas music, or read a book with them, rather than diving into a day of busy activities.
5. Offer to Host. Sometimes entertaining guests and cooking a large meal can be overwhelming for seniors. If an older relative is the one who usually hosts a family gathering, offer to take that responsibility off their plate this year, especially if it is a source of stress. If your relative enjoys hosting, make sure you offer to help them by taking care of decorating or cleaning up after the event is over. You can also search for ways to make holiday preparations simpler for your loved one, such as suggesting that the family participates in a white elephant gift exchange or secret Santa style gift giving. This may help your older relative because they will only need to focus on purchasing one gift instead of buying presents for the entire family.
Maintaining healthy practices this holiday season and being flexible when it comes to traditions will allow seniors to enjoy healthy and happy holidays with their loved ones.