Seeing family during the holidays can be joyful as well as challenging, no matter who is the guest and who is the visitor. If you are going home to spend time with elderly loved ones, this can be an ideal time to see if they are doing OK and need more help year round.
Let’s make a list and check it twice so this can be a delightful time for all:
- Use this opportunity to reconnect. Loneliness is an epidemic, especially in the elder population. Even though there are a lot of activities to enjoy around the holidays, make sure you make time for moments of meaningful connection with your loved one. This might be participating in a hobby they have always loved like making a puzzle together, baking cookies, attending church or more.
- Winter can be a tricky time for people of all ages as the shorter days and longer nights are tied to symptoms of depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Look for symptoms such as social withdrawal, hopelessness, anxiety, loss of energy, oversleeping, loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed, weight gain, and difficulty concentrating. Schedule an appointment with their health care provider together to get a correct diagnosis and some possible solutions.
- As you help with decorations or cooking at your parents’ home, do a little detective work to ensure their safety. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), at age 65, people are twice as likely to be killed or injured by fires compared to the population at large. You can easily check batteries in devices like smoke detectors, location of fire extinguishers, and look around for potential fall or slip hazards in and outside of the home.
- Use those cherished holiday mementos such as handmade ornaments, old family recipes, what-have-you to play a little memory game together. If there appear to be memory problems, talk with them about seeing their doctor.
- If possible, plan your trip so you can be there after the holiday build up too. Once the excitement of festivities is over, people can feel overwhelmed with clean up. Use this time to help them declutter or just tidy up.
The key to a successful holiday visit with loved ones is good communication together about any concerns, along with all of the comforts, laughs, and smiles of the season.