For many adults, including your senior loved ones, the holidays can be both a blessing and a cause of tension and frustration. With a little advanced planning, you can reduce the feelings of tension and frustration for all involved. Keep in mind that we, as humans, are social animals. Most of us, welcome social interaction. Seniors may spend the better part of their days alone and would enjoy the opportunity to get together and share their stories with family and friends. Even the ever-quiet Uncle Joe, who prefers solitude, may enjoy people watching.
To make the holidays a success, for all your guests, including seniors:
- Create a safe environment,
- Consider noise control,
- Be mindful of the menu,
- Anticipate the needs of your guests
- Relax and enjoy the company
Create a Safe Environment
Heart disease continues to be the number one cause of death in the United States, however, falls are the leading cause of death due to injury for individuals aged 65 and older. A safety check can eliminate some of the hazards that lead to senior falls. Look around, is your environment as safe as it can be? Is the lighting brighter for seniors? Have all throw rugs, electrical cords, and technology chargers been put away? Are staircases well-lit and have handrails, preferably on both sides of the staircase? For an easy safety check form to use in your home, visit www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/ and search for “safety check”.
Consider Noise Control
As we age it becomes more difficult to hear high pitch voices and to discriminate sounds. To help your seniors enjoy themselves, provide a quiet space for conversation away from the hustle and bustle and loud music. Younger guests often enjoy hearing stories of the lives of seniors. In the quiet space, all guests can have a chance to catch up and entertain one another.
Be Mindful of the Menu
As the years go by, allergies to foods that we could enjoy in our younger years, may develop. Ask guests to make you aware of any allergies on your invitations. Some seniors may have problems with swallowing. Be prepared to offer several choices and textures to accommodate multiple preferences. Alcohol can lead to dangerous outcomes when mixed with medication. Know who can and cannot drink alcohol safely. If you are serving alcoholic beverages, serve them individually, rather than offering an open bar to which all attendees have unlimited access.
Anticipate the Needs of Your Guests
Everyone loves to feel welcome. When you call people by their name, they feel good. They feel even better when they see you have taken their personal needs into consideration during their visit. For seniors, keeping up with bathroom breaks, providing a spot to take a cat nap, and soothing music can do wonders to keep their energy at a level that allows them to enjoy the visit.
Relax and Enjoy the Company
Preparing in advance so that you can enjoy your company is one of the best holiday gifts you can give your family and friends. Sometimes hiring a catering team may seem like an indulgence, however, if it allows you to mingle with your guests, it is worth the cost. Some of us may not be here for the holidays next year. So, doing the best we can to enjoy each other’s company this year will create new memories to last a lifetime.
This article was provided by Patricia A. White, PhD, RN of Integrity In-Home Care. For more information, call 267-498-5533 or visit www.integrityihc.com.