All of us will soon be wrapped up in the holiday spirit, religious celebrations, gift giving, family gatherings, and too much food. At different times during the holidays, we all experience some level of stress, possibly from last minute shopping, arranging the family get-together, or even family conflicts. Sometimes the senior in the family is often neglected by other family members. Most family situations require some form of compromise, but I believe that the holidays are especially difficult for senior members of a family. It is important that everyone understands the unique needs of many seniors at this time of year.
First, it is difficult for seniors to even participate with the family during the holidays. Sometimes the senior is physically unable to join in the holiday festivities. Often they live alone, which requires the family to make an out-of-the-way trip to see mom or dad. It is important to discuss with the family how they would like to involve their loved one, and for Visiting Angels to provide the most appropriate care possible. It might be as simple as providing a few extra hours of service or assisting with the preparations in order for all family members to relax and enjoy the special days around the holidays with their loved one.
Then there is the emotional side of the holiday season for the senior; one which can be quite difficult. In the eyes of many seniors, they see the holiday as a point in time that may never be experienced again. Although the senior has seen many, many holidays and experienced countless family gatherings, the senior is most likely feeling a sense of loss as he/she understands that this may be his/her last holiday with family. With the family’s support it might be good for the senior to reminisce about the past gatherings at the holidays. So do your best to gather around and reflect back.
Leaf through some old photo albums and let them simply talk about some of the joyful moments he/she has had during the holiday season. Although this may be a bit sad, it does pull together how full their life has been and what a wonderful legacy they have created with producing such a special family and such wonderful family memories.
A Visiting Angels caregiver is the key to much of this effort. She can use her special relationship to the senior to offer support, kindness, respect, and love at a time when the senior’s family may be wrapped up with the younger generation, which can be quite demanding at this time of year. Understand the position of a senior as his/her life winds down, and the senior no longer thinks of the future, but spends much time reviewing and reliving the past. Help the senior to enjoy the fruits of his/her life through participation with the family in the present. Continually acknowledge to your loved one what a great family he/she has and how proud he/she must be of them all. It can be a very special time for the entire family to share the wonderful memories of the past. Holidays are made for memories. So go and make some more this holiday season.
Don’t forget . . . we can help bring the family together this holiday season for a very memorable day.