New Twists on Tradition for Seniors


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One of the best things about the holidays is carrying on old family traditions and making new ones. But for seniors who are dealing with aging issues that might include, but are not limited to, fatigue, vision, hearing or mobility impairment, depression, dietary restrictions and memory loss or dementia the joys of Christmas past can turn into potential health hazards or bittersweet reminders of how much times have changed. At Home Instead Senior Care serving Central Oregon, we have adapted some beloved holiday to make them more senior-friendly for your loved ones.

1. Reconsider the menu. If Mom can no longer handle preparing and cooking the traditional meal on her own, make it a group effort. It’s a win-win: Mom can supervise and the next generation can learn all the secrets to making those favorite family recipes.

2. Mix it up. Older adults are usually most alert and at their best earlier in the day. Why not plan a holiday brunch rather than a lunch, or attend a daytime religious service instead of the evening one?

3. Think simple. You may love seeing the family home all decked out for the season, but hauling boxes of decorations may become impossible for seniors who struggle with mobility and balance issues. Get together with family and friends and decide which holiday decorating traditions to keep and what to forego.

4. Be their eyes, hands and feet. When arthritis prevents seniors from writing cards or macular degeneration damages eyesight and makes it difficult to shop for gifts, you can offer to take on those tasks. If time is short, suggest more efficient options such as online shopping and sending e-cards.

5. Compensate when necessary. If hearing impairment keeps Dad from enjoying the annual holiday movie, check out the latest sound enhancement technology. If Mom is having trouble seeing the deck of playing cards, look for large print cards or activities that can help keep her in the game.

6. Hit the road. You no doubt remember it as a child – those holiday light tours that you and your parents loved. A holiday driving tour is an easy way to bring back the memories and joy to an older adult who can no longer decorate.

7. Go Skype. Distance can separate older adults from loved ones, which exacerbates loneliness, isolation and depression during the holidays. Use the latest technology to help an older adult stay connected to loved ones from afar.

8. Relive memorable moments. Seniors with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias will especially appreciate opportunities to tap into old memories. Listen to favorite carols and ask your loved one to share his or her most vivid memories, like taking a horse-drawn sleigh ride or hunting game for the holiday meal.

9. Make new memories. Sometimes, things must change. If an older adult can’t participate in the holiday or is hospitalized, why not create a simple video that shares highlights of the season? Or arrange to have a group sing carols to your senior loved one – traditional songs from his or her generation.

10. Get help – fast! One of the best ways to adapt holiday activities is to ask for help. Enlisting the help of a professional caregiver to help with meal preparation or to provide transportation for your loved one can lighten the load for families and free them up to maximize special holiday time with their senior loved one.

For more ideas on enjoying the holidays with your senior loved one, please call us at 541-330-6400 or like our Facebook page.

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