3 Tips to Help Seniors Overcome Holiday Stress

December 30, 2020 | BY PHS Staff

‘Tis the season for gift giving, shopping, wrapping, eating treats, and – you guessed it – stress! Your life may already feel stressed as you manage the needs of your senior loved one as well as the needs of your own family, but with the holiday in full swing, that stress can seem even more overwhelming. Add in pandemic concerns, isolation and the specter of health threats, and your life may seem like a pressure cooker about to explode. Just remember, you’re not alone in all the stress. Your aging parent or other loved one is also feeling confused and overwhelmed, especially if they suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.

Holiday-related stress often looks different for seniors than it does to us. Seniors don’t feel the traditional pressure of shopping for just the right gift or of planning a delicious family dinner, but

they certainly feel sadness or anxiety, which can prevent them from feeling excited or happy during these holidays.

They may also be feeling even more isolated with COVID-19 restrictions, and won’t be able to visit with grandkids or other family members in the way they’ve always been used to.

Alzheimer’s in home care​ can certainly help take the burden off family caregivers, but here are some tips for helping the senior in your life overcome holiday stress.

1.  Grief

The holidays bring memories of lost beloved friends and relatives, particularly spouses who have passed on. Even if your Mom lost your Dad several years ago, for example, the holidays can bring those feelings of grief right back. It’s important to be sensitive to these feelings. Talk about it with them. Don’t worry about upsetting them. Chances are, they ​want​ to talk about the person they lost, even if they can’t always formulate the right words. Encourage them to tell stories in an effort to help them grieve, suggests CaregiverStress.com.

2.  Dietary Concerns 

While you may have gone to great lengths to cook a fabulous holiday meal for your guests, think about it from your senior loved one’s perspective. They may have anxieties about how their favorite dish may upset their stomach due to a new medication they’re taking. Or, think about their fear that eating a food they used to enjoy may now upset their stomach.

Many older seniors have difficulty with chewing or swallowing, and some medical conditions and medications can restrict their diet. Relieve this anxiety by asking them about any new dietary requirements or restrictions beforehand. Be mindful of incorporating some senior-friendly dishes into the family dinner so everyone at the table can enjoy it.

3.  Mobility Concerns

Seniors who have experienced a fall in the past or who rely on walkers and canes may worry if they will be able to be present for holiday gatherings that are held in a location that is unfamiliar to them. This year may restrict their ability to visit other places, but they still may be anxious about venturing out somewhere new, or having anyone over to their home.

Provide your senior with information in advance about what to expect. Reassure them that you will help them get around, informing them of possible issues like long stretches of walking, or a few stair steps. Formulate a plan together that addresses these potential problems so that they can enjoy the activity rather than fretting about whether they will fall.

Do what you can to remain positive during this time, and remember that it’s common for caregivers and older adults to be particularly susceptible to the holiday blues. As a caregiver, points out​ AgingCare, you may be prone to adopting your aging loved one’s anxieties or melancholy feelings, and vice versa.

Contact Preferred HealthStaff

Preferred HealthStaff offers Alzheimer’s home care services that can relieve the seasonal burden on family caregivers. Our staff members are highly trained and certified to care for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other memory-related disorders. To learn more about our Alzheimer’s care services, please​ ​contact us​ toll free at 866-943-9791 or in Fairfield 717-642-8500.