Preparing Family for Holidays with Elderly Loved Ones

November 15, 2020 | BY PHS Staff

If you’re like many families, you may only get together a couple of times a year for large holiday celebrations. This year threw a wrench into the works for many, as large gatherings have been discouraged since March. But if you’re still planning on having small holiday gatherings with family over the next couple of months, you may be wondering how you can integrate and include your elderly loved ones in the celebrations.

Holiday gatherings can be stressful on any given year, but this year in particular has its added challenges. Many of your extended family members may not have seen your aging parent, spouse or other loved one in many months or even since last year’s holiday festivities. As the family caregiver, you see your loved one every day and know how they act, how they appear and how to handle them. But those who aren’t in the daily picture may be shocked to see that their family member has declined since the last get-together.

Being surprised or caught off guard can make family members irrationally angry. They may ignore your loved one, or insist on making unwise changes to their at home care. You can minimize this unwanted behavior by providing your family with a heads-up about what they can expect before holiday events.

Not only will you get fewer rude comments and criticisms as the caregiver, your senior loved one will be treated with greater respect and care.

What to Share

Here’s what you can share with your family ahead of time, such as informing them of the senior’s current health condition and their common behaviors, and suggest ways of interacting that may help them enjoy the gathering more.

DailyCaring suggests you may want to share:

  • Significant weight loss or gain
  • Need for a wheelchair or walker
  • Need to wear disposable briefs due to incontinence
  • Inability to do things for themselves, such as feed themselves or use the restroom
  • Unpredictable behavior or memory problems caused by dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
  • Hiring of senior care services to help with daily tasks, such as household chores and companionship

It’s best that you share these things with family before the get-together so that everyone can get on the same page and prepare ahead of time. This will make it easier for everyone to enjoy themselves during the actual party.

Warning Signs

Sadly, age-related decline happens quickly, and oftentimes, seniors try to conceal or downplay new or worsening problems they may be experiencing. Take this time to pay close attention to your loved one’s physical and mental health, as well as their living situation.

Here are some warning signs that your loved one may need some extra help at home.

  • Weight Loss: This can be a sign of ill health, with possible causes including cancer, dementia or depression. Elderly people may also experience low energy levels or fatigue, which precludes them from shopping for and making nutritious meals, and cleaning up after themselves.
  • Changes in Balance and Mobility: A reluctance to walk, obvious pain or changes in gait during movement may signal joint, muscle or neurological problems. And if your loved one seems to be unsteady on their feet, they are at a higher risk of falling.
  • Changes in Mood and Behavior: Be on the lookout for signs of depression and anxiety, including changes in sleep patterns, withdrawal from social activities, loss of interest in once-favorite hobbies, and changes in basic personal hygiene and home maintenance, says AgingCare. Sudden odd behavior such as confusion or agitation can also be a symptom of a urinary tract infection (UTI), prevalent in seniors.

As you face the holidays with your elderly loved one, whether a parent or a spouse, be sensitive to their needs as well and be honest with family members prior to any gatherings.

Contact Preferred HealthStaff

Preferred HealthStaff is available through the holidays months to help with the care of your elderly loved ones as part of our senior home care services. To learn more about how we can help, please contact us toll free at 866-943-9791 or in Fairfield 717-642-8500.