Guest Article: Caring For Your Loved One’s Health Over The Holidays
Written by Michelle Y. Llamas of Drugwatch.com
Caring for an older loved one over the holidays can pose some unique challenges. In addition to looking out for the health of a loved one, caregivers also have to deal with the stress of caring and of the holidays. It can be easy for caregivers to become overwhelmed physically and emotionally, especially when caring for a loved one who may be mentally or physically impaired.
Even with these challenges, there are some steps that caregivers can take to ensure that the holidays are safe and enjoyable for loved ones as well as themselves. Here are a few suggestions.
Keep Family Gatherings Simple and Warm
People may have a tendency to go overboard during holiday get-togethers. There may be a lot of time spent planning, preparing food and travelling. This can cause stress for both the caregiver and the senior. Instead, focus on quality versus quantity.
Try having the parties or holiday dinners at the primary place where you care for your loved one; this will eliminate stress of travel. If a loved one suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s, removing them from a familiar environment may cause unnecessary stress or confusion.
Instead of decorating the entire house, focus on a few lights, wreaths or garlands. Focus on enjoying the process, routine and time together rather than the result.
When inviting guests, rather than having a large number of people over at a time, try spreading out visits. This will keep the stress level down while still allowing your loved one to socialize and connect with friends and family. Make sure to plan gatherings in advance. This will allow for plenty of time to organize an event and get your loved one ready for it.
When it comes to dinner, suggest a potluck. This will cut down on the amount of work you have to do to organize and clean up. And most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If family members are not available, third-party companies can also provide caregiving assistance to reduce the burden on you.
Keeping Yourself and Your Loved One Healthy
Caregivers spend a good deal of time fulfilling the needs of others and often forget their own needs. Some can even feel guilty for doing something for themselves. The holidays should be a time for caregivers to relax and enjoy their time as well.
In the middle of all the rushing about, make sure to stop and take a breath. Loved ones depend on caregivers, so they need to stay healthy too. Make sure to eat a balanced diet, and get some exercise. This will also help you manage stress.
When it comes loved ones, be mindful of their diets and exercise as well. Overeating and drinking too much alcohol are common during the holidays. Both are risk factors for developing heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure – all diseases that seniors have a higher risk for. If they already have these diseases, poor diet can increase complications from these conditions.
Icy conditions may also make getting around safely more difficult. Caregivers need to be mindful of the slippery conditions when outdoors.
Older adults are also more susceptible to colds and viruses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting older adults vaccinated, and there are special, stronger doses to keep seniors from getting the flu.
Most importantly, caregivers need to remember to take time out for themselves. Schedule it into the day, and stick to it. Take time to be thankful for the things that bring happiness and joy this season. With some careful planning, caregivers can decrease holiday stress while keeping loved ones safe and healthy.
Michelle Y. Llamas is a published writer and researcher. She hosts Drugwatch Radio, a health podcast, and writes about drugs and medical devices for Drugwatch.com.
Posted on December 31, 2013, in Family Caregivers and Care Management, Senior Health and Wellness, Senior Lifestyle and tagged dependence in elderly years, elderly family member, elderly gifting, elderly love, elderly parent and child relationship, elderly parents, holiday, holidays, loneliness among elderly, loneliness among the elderly, love for elderly, senior gifting, senior health, seniors, supporting elderly loved ones. Bookmark the permalink. 198 Comments.