The holidays can be stressful on everyone, but even more so for caregivers and those they care for throughout the year. Usually, diets and schedules go out the window as soon as the Christmas music starts playing on the radio, but this is not always a healthy way to live, especially for those who have very specific health needs that need to be maintained throughout the year.
If you have a senior loved one that you care for in your family, here are some ways that you can help them stay healthy and happy throughout the holiday season.
Pay attention to Dietary Restrictions
While everyone else is gorging on holiday cookies and pies, it should be a top priority to pay close attention to what your loved one is eating compared to how they should be eating based on their health needs. Certain health conditions require diets that are low in sugar, fats, carbs, or any other type of food, and there is no exception during the holidays. This may mean packing extra healthy snacks or preparing a small meal for your loved one to eat before attending events. Ask dinner hosts what is on the menu for meals out so that you can properly prepare your loved one for a healthy night before it’s too late.
Additionally, it is a requirement that some medications be taken with food, and others may interact negatively with certain types of food. Pay close attention to the meals that your loved one is consuming before and after taking required prescriptions.
Make Time to Exercise
Again, there may be more calorie consumption this time of year for everyone, but even a small weight gain may mean more problems for your older loved one. If possible, and the weather allows, schedule time for light exercises or walking throughout the holiday months. Even a walk around the block can be better than remaining sedentary all day. As an added bonus, exercise is not only good for physical health, but it can improve your mood and make for a happier holiday time together.
Add Water to Every Meal
Staying hydrated is also extremely important all year long, but it can be forgotten during the holidays when cocktails and Eggnog are plentiful. If your loved one drinks alcohol, pay attention to the amount, and keep it in moderation as much as possible, as alcohol is dehydrating. Include water as part of every meal so that it becomes a habit for your loved one to stay hydrated all season long.
Build in Time to Rest
The holidays are always a busy time with family and friends sharing the cheer! However, lots of commotion and travel can be extremely exhausting for your older loved one. Not only are energy levels lower as we age, but your loved one may have a health condition that requires extra rest. Make sure to build in extra downtime, especially after periods of travel. Give your loved one a morning or afternoon off in between holiday events, and make sure to pay attention to their energy levels and need for sleep.
Include Your Loved One
It can be hard to include your loved one in every holiday activity, but as much as possible, keep them in the loop. Many seniors can become lonely, especially if a spouse or close friends have passed away. It may be easy to forget about checking in with them throughout all of the commitments, but it’s very important to include them in holiday activities. Ask your loved one to help prepare a meal, entertain the grandkids, or take part in decorating the house for guests. As people come and go each day, don’t forget to check in and make sure your loved one is having a happy holiday too.
We know the holidays can be an extremely challenging time for caregivers and their families, which is why we are here to offer any assistance needed. From short-term to long-term companion or nursing care, we have qualified professional caregivers available to help alleviate some of the stress of caregiving over the holidays and throughout the year. Give us a call to learn more about our services. 855-Nurse44
Care.com, Inc. (n.d.). 11 Tips for Keeping Seniors Healthy Over the Holidays. Retrieved from https://www.care.com/c/stories/5708/holiday-health-for-seniors/