Older Adults and Holiday Stress

Today, most older adults are vibrant and full of energy, but the holidays can be stressful for every one:

1.  Set realistic goals

We know visiting family and friends is always on the to-do list during the holiday season, but traveling and meeting with people all day can be physically and mentally exhausting. Make sure to schedule ample rest time throughout and allow for plenty of transportation time in between visits so that there’s no rushing around to see last-minute guests.

2.  Keep set schedules

If your senior parent or friend is used to waking up at a certain time, eating at a certain time and going to bed at a certain time, make sure to respect those schedules. Staying up later to accommodate family visits or having to eat later in the evening because of a difference in meal times can be difficult and stressful for a senior to acclimate to, so make sure you know beforehand what their schedule is like.

3.  Keep expenses to a minimum

Many older adults are on fixed incomes, so keeping costs low can help ease any financial stress associated with the holidays. Travel, gifts and food can all start to take their toll on the checkbook, so make sure to create a realistic budget and stick to it.

4.  Plan appropriate activities

A six-hour shopping trip may not be the best idea for a senior who has difficulty walking or standing for long periods of time. If these types of activities are unavoidable, make sure that a walker or wheelchair is available to make activities easier and more comfortable.  Many seniors have circulatory problems or other illnesses that can make standing for long periods difficult.

5.  Keep friends or family around

Along with the fun and happy aspects of holidays comes sadness for many older adults – especially those who’ve lost loved ones. Be sure not to be isolated. Finally, Unfortunately…50% of the seniors over the age of 80 suffer from Alzheimer’s disease…holidays are very stressful for people with memory issues…if you are planning a large family event encourage relatives to wear name tags,  it can be very intimidating for people who can not remember a relatives name.   Long term memory is usually intact, so this is a wonderful time to go down, “Memory Lane” and share old pictures.    Finally, encourage seniors, as we do at MAPLE KNOLL, to “LIVE LIFE”  
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caregiver - February 12, 2014 Reply

Recognizing that the stress you are experiencing can sometimes lead to depression is the first step to preventing it — and burnout. To take that step, talk about your feelings, frustrations, and fears with the palliative care team’s social worker or mental health professional. Talking helps you understand what’s going on for you and for the person in your care. It helps you come to grips with the fact that you are not in total control of the situation.

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