The holidays are upon us, and they mean different things to different people. For many, the holidays are a season full of joy, parties, visiting with relatives, too many cookies, and sometimes too much gluhwein. For others, however, the holidays can be lonely or even isolating. The winter months may be much more difficult for loved ones or relatives who live alone, or who are starting to have trouble with activities of daily living (ADLs). Thankfully, this month offers great opportunities to check in on your loved ones, and help them navigate a potentially tricky season. Read on for some things to look for, resources to turn to, and tips to help your loved ones this holiday season.
What signs should I be looking for in a beloved senior this holiday season?
Seasonal affective disorder: Is a loved one exhibiting signs of depression that seem out of character? SAD is a type of depression that is impacted by seasonal changes. Most often, it occurs during the dark, dreary months of late fall and winter, but in rare cases, it might affect individuals during the spring and/or summer. Like other types of depression, it can be mild, moderate, or severe. Older Americans, particularly those in nursing homes or receiving other types of senior care, might be more susceptible to the winter blues. This is because the holiday season could make elderly Americans feel more isolated than they might be already...especially if they are separated from family members or close friends. This, in addition to seasonal and physiological changes, could contribute to higher incidences of SAD among seniors.
Difficulties with daily tasks: It’s hard to imagine that one day, putting on a pair of pants or brushing your hair could be difficult. But this sort of difficulty is not uncommon as people get older, and our loved ones are no exception. The cold during winter is generally not helpful, and seniors may be waking up more achy and less flexible. Or perhaps winter weather makes it more difficult to get out of the house for groceries, doctor appointments, or family gatherings. Regardless, it’s important to watch for signs that an older parent, aunt, uncle, or neighbor is not able to accomplish tasks that are generally required on a daily or weekly basis. Some cues that a person is struggling may be unkempt hair, wearing the same clothes for days, weight loss, poor personal hygiene, or empty cupboards and refrigerators.
Simple ways to help a senior in your life who needs care
Often, one of the most important gifts we can ever give is our time. Whether it’s a surprise visit or a weekly phone call, these small gestures enable us to spend time with the ones we love. Coincidentally, they also provide an opportunity to watch for signs that a beloved senior needs some type of senior care. Here are some easy ways to stay involved with elderly loved ones in your life this holiday season:
- Schedule a regular visit or phone call. It sounds simple, but sticking to a regular schedule is helpful in most aspects of life, whether it’s working out, carving out time for your spouse, or...you guessed it: visiting with your elderly mother or father. Keeping a schedule that is sustainable provides opportunities for regular feedback, and may even be the highlight of your loved one’s week.
- Take advantage of publicly available resources. Did you know that the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department has regularly scheduled events geared especially towards seniors? Activities include Senior Art Camp and The Philadelphia Games (learn more here). Even if a beloved elder relative doesn’t want to participate directly, simply attending these events would be a good way for social interaction, getting out of the house, and meeting other seniors.
- Don’t be afraid to have an honest discussion about difficult topics. The discussion between adult children and their elderly parents regarding end-of-life decisions and desires can be just as difficult to initiate as the birds and bees discussion, but it’s just as important. Here are three must-discuss topics: where a senior wants to live (in home care versus other options), how to manage personal finances, and health related questions, such as driving safety, do-not-resuscitate orders, and even relationships and dating questions! Read more about having “The Talk” here.
- Find assistance with tasks like cooking or cleaning. Helping out with things like meal preparation or light cleaning can help keep a senior healthy and happy. If you can do these things yourself, great. (Cooking and cleaning are two great tasks for grandkids to learn helpfulness as well.) Or perhaps you can spearhead the effort to find reliable, regular help for loved ones. Here is a comparison of different types of senior care, and how much they generally cost.
What to do if a loved one needs senior care?
One of the most versatile services available to elderly relatives is in home care. Whether help with basic tasks is required a few hours a week, or someone needs round-the-clock care, in home care is a flexible way to meet various needs. At Pennsylvania Agency of Nurses, we specialize in compassionate, competent care for families living in the greater Philadelphia region. Consider in home care for a beloved elder who is perhaps having trouble with daily tasks, or who would benefit from regular companionship. In home care is an appropriate choice for families that require flexibility, and we’d like you to consider our agency.
Since its inception, PAN has blossomed to become a leader in the home care industry with over 120 caring staff members. We are able to coordinate your care, advocate on your behalf, and guide you or a loved one through the many confusing healthcare choices available. We pride ourselves on our rigorous applicant screening and testing process. PAN does not subcontract employees, and is not a franchise - all staff are PAN employees and are fully insured (read why that is important here). We are a state licensed home care company and an active member of the Pennsylvania Home Care Association. For all these reasons and more, we’d love to hear from you about helping to meet your family’s needs. Please visit our Client Testimonial page, or contact us today!