Parties, school concerts, church services and last-minute deadlines — is there any time busier than the holidays? Despite the hustle and bustle, the holidays are a great time to think about members of older generations in your family and how you can make their holiday a little easier, safer and jollier. It just may be the perfect gift.
One of the top drawbacks of the holiday season is stress. From buying gifts to making lefse, the to-do list never seems to get shorter.
“Oftentimes, grandparents don’t know what to give grandkids,” said Cindy Senger, Vice President of Patient Care for Avera@Home. “If you know what your child wants or needs, pick it up while you’re out Christmas shopping. You can also spend quality time wrapping gifts with them, too.”
Sending Christmas cards is a treasured tradition for older adults. When you’re at the photo center ordering your family’s Christmas card, help your parents or grandparents out by ordering their cards as well. If they wrote a letter to accompany their photo, get it printed on festive paper.
Preparing for Christmas Day is also hectic. If an older relative typically hosts the annual gathering, take a chance and have the celebration at your house. Or, offer to go early and help get things ready. To make it easier, divvy out the side dishes, relishes and desserts to relatives who will be attending.
When the cold and ice sets in, it’s easy to be concerned about mom and dad’s safety both inside and outside of the home. A bad fall, for example, could result in the loss of independence.
To avoid such injuries, help with decorations that require heavy lifting or ladder use. This may include hanging lights outdoors or setting up the Christmas tree. If you aren’t available to shovel the sidewalk after each snow, hire a neighbor for the task.
When roads are particularly snowy, offer to take older adults to their appointments or the grocery store. Senger encourages adults to get involved in their parents’ health care. Two heads are better than one when a physician is discussing medication routines and follow-up care.
“For older adults, it’s hard to lose control over the things that used to come so easily for them,” said Senger. “The key is to find the balance between what you can do for them and allowing them to still hold their independence.”
Though it’s the season of joy, it’s easy for older adults to become isolated and lonely. Even from afar, we want to make sure loved ones have a happy holiday.
“If they live hours away, parents and grandparents can still be part of Christmas activities by using technology and services to keep in touch,” said Senger.
Not only does a regular phone call keep them in the loop, tech-savvy adults may enjoy using FaceTime or Skype to watch grandkids decorate the tree, open gifts or read a bedtime story. They get to be a part of the experience.
Senger also points out that there are professional services as well as church groups that can visit older adults regularly for coffee, games, lunch, Bible studies or caroling. Check to see if their community has a senior center or if Parks and Recreation offers events catered to older adults. Give movie tickets or restaurant gift cards — something they can truly enjoy and use.
“As you get older, you realize how precious your parents and grandparents truly are,” said Senger. “It’s a great time to give back, and show your love and appreciation.”
Learn more about home care at AveraAtHome.org