Seniors need to prepare for the holidays just like everyone else. Moreover, their families often need to prepare to host or care for them as well. As always, we want to keep our seniors in Nassau County happy and well cared for over the holidays. To that end, companion care for seniors will come in very handy.
Companion Care for Seniors Over the Holidays
In order for seniors to join in the festivities, we often bring our senior loved ones and their companions to our homes so that they can be with their families and still have the care they need. In order for the transition to be seamless, it is important to properly plan for their arrival and stay.
Here are some checklists for seniors, their families, and companions while they are with you for the holidays.
Prepare Your Home for Your Senior
Seniors have specific requirements for making a safe environment.
You need to make sure any area rugs are securely attached to floors, or better yet, remove them. Also, you need to make sure there are clear paths for any wheelchairs, walkers, or scooters. You might even need a ramp in various places to ease any transitions.
Make sure they come prepared with enough medication for their stay.
The last thing you want to is be caught short over the holidays when doctors and pharmacies have limited hours. It is best to make sure your loved one comes with an ample supply. For good measure, in case there is some delay in returning home, it may be a good idea to ask their doctors for an extra prescription to travel with.
To make them feel comfortable, you might need to prepare toiletries such as incontinence products or protective bed sheets.
Also, a quiet space where your senior can sleep can be ideal. A nice touch would be to place pictures of family and old friends to make them feel at home, safe, and loved.
Time Management and Your Elderly Guest
Preparing ahead is always a good idea and that includes thinking ahead about travel arrangements.
Whether it be by air, train, or car, mapping out the route will pay off. Seeing what flights or trains are available early on will ease the planning process. If you are driving to them or they to you, make sure the route is clear and the car is up to the job in terms of a full gas tank and any maintenance necessary for the winter months. Of course, if hotel reservations are involved, holiday time is busy season, so reserve in advance.
When you are with your senior, you need to be mindful of their schedule in terms of taking their medication as well as their energy level.
It is best not to plan too much in a day as they tend to tire more easily than younger family members. Taking all that into account, it is absolutely good to schedule in some things you know they will enjoy. Make it a really enjoyable experience for them.
Meal Tips for Seniors
Mealtime for seniors can be a challenge on a couple of fronts. Not only do their taste buds change when they age, but the medication can also make them nauseous and averse to eating. On top of that, there are usually guidelines they must follow from their health practitioners. That is why it is so important for caregivers to cater to their palettes. Moreover, the rich holiday meals may not be the best for them. To keep them well nourished, you should:
- You should be sure to have any specific foods stocked and prepared that they need to accommodate their diets or health conditions. This would apply equally to the elderly loved one and their companion.
- Have something they can eat at every meal that conforms with their dietary needs and personal tastes.
- Have light nutritious snacks at the ready for them so they are never left to scrounge or hungry.
- Have their favorite holiday treat around from their childhood or child rearing years to entice them to not only eat, but to remember if they are having memory challenges.
- Last, but not least: Include your elderly loved one in the planning of the meals, so you are not only clear on what they like, but they feel needed.
Exercise With Seniors Over the Holiday
Exercise over the holidays is a challenge for everyone. With all the hustle and bustle and hosting and preparing, exercise shoots down to the bottom of almost everyone’s to do list. We don’t need to extol the benefits of exercise because they are clear to all. However, we should be mindful of how exercise should not be simply dropped over the holiday time for the following reasons:
- With the increased calorie intake over the holidays, it is all too easy to put on unnecessary weight without even realizing it. After the dust settles and the last guest is gone, you do not want to be left wondering why your clothes are just that much tighter now.
- Holiday season is traditionally cold and family gatherings are generally indoors. All this adds up to less fresh outdoor air and less movement. Getting that fresh air with even a once or twice a day walk around the block can make a huge difference in clearing the mind and lungs.
- Lowered activity is a known contributor to depression and that is the last thing you want to risk with the elderly who have a tendency to feel blue over this family time where they remember loved ones who are no longer here. Do all you can to avoid this trigger. Even laps around the mall can be fun and stave off a lurking “blues monster”.
Mental Health Suggestions For All
Be aware that any feelings of loneliness or grief can be rekindled during holiday times.
The elderly are even more susceptible to this since they have experienced more loss than younger people. As such, be patient and sensitive to them. Sometimes just a listening ear or a bit of hand holding is all that is necessary to get over the rough spots.
If you cannot be with your loved one physically, a phone call can be very comforting.
Try to pick up the phone or even schedule some video calls with them so you can each join in each other’s festivities. You can send presents or care packages and open them together over the video call.
In terms of gift giving, you might want to keep it low key.
Keep the stress level surrounding gifts low. Many of the elderly are not able to get out to get that perfect gift, nor are they necessarily able to afford it on a fixed income. The old adage is always true: It’s the thought that counts.
Photo albums are a great way to jog the memory of seniors and get them to talk about their lives and family history.
Most seniors love teaching younger ones about their early lives. Therefore, make sure the albums are accessible and organized and absolutely have a pen and paper ready so you can record the family history as they re-tell it. Better yet, quick videos will be great to pass down to later generations.
Get dressed up! What’s a party without a party dress?
Help your senior loved one get into the spirit by primping and dressing for the big holiday gatherings. It will get everyone in the mood for a good time!
Keep up family traditions your childhood and theirs.
Dementia may affect their short-term memory, but their long term memory may be crystal clear. Take advantage of the opportunity and pull out those pencils once again to record more family history.
Schedule time for yourself.
Unfortunately, caring for someone with diminished physical, and often mental, capacity can be exhausting. Take a few moments to recharge whether it be some time alone in your room to take a luxurious bath or watch a favorite movie.
Though mentioned last, perhaps the most important tip is to keep YOUR stress level at a minimum. The captain of the ship needs to be calm and collected to keep everyone around steady. To that end, having as much help as you need will keep all concerned that much happier.
How to Find Companion Care for Seniors for the Holidays
There are generally two routes to finding companion care for seniors.
On your own through a word-of-mouth recommendation.
A trusted source or advertising through lists and social media can yield companion candidates. However, this leaves you to vet candidates on your own and you may not have the experience to do so effectively. Moreover, you may not be aware of all the issues surrounding hiring in-home healthcare workers.
Through a home healthcare agency.
Taking advantage of a professional service to find a companion may come with a bit of a higher price tag, but you have the piece of mind knowing that an experienced human resources team has vetted the individual and checked their references. The agency stands behind the hire and you can feel at ease with the person they send.
Whichever route you choose to find companion care for seniors, you will want to be especially careful about whom you hire. These caregivers are in the homes of your precious loved ones every day, mostly one-on-one. As such, they must be of the highest integrity.
David York Agency Provides Companion Care for Seniors in Nassau County
At David York Agency, we understand the many challenges and risks faced by the aging and elderly. We are dedicated to providing care to support them through all of those ups and downs. At David York Home Healthcare Agency, extraordinary service is what sets us apart from other companies in Nassau County that provide in-home healthcare services.
DYA we could provide direction as to how to manage the total care of your senior loved one. Whatever your care needs, we are there for you, always striving to exceed your expectations. For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at (718) 376-7755. A free phone consultation can help you determine what services would meet your needs. We aim to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn.