Aging brings changes in mood and energy, health, and mobility as well as independence levels. Socially isolated adults are at higher rate for depression, and not being able to participate in holidays like they used to can exasperate these feelings.

One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever know, especially during the holidays. There are several reasons your aging family member may list to avoid participating in the holiday celebration including mobility concerns, family members creating their own traditions, distance, or them not wanting to be a “burden” to name a few. When speaking with your loved one they may pass their loneliness off by referring to it as “just another day.”

You likely know better than that and with your loved one being less willing to participate, you may wonder what else is going on. This could be a good time to introduce a Geriatric Care Manager, who can evaluate and determine if additional assistance is needed and provide recommendations that will help them participate and fill the need they have to enjoy the holidays. This will often include ideas to help avoid depression that can come from loneliness around the holiday times.

Thinking about the memories you have from your growing up years, you can implement aspects of those memories into your home while making sure that your aging loved one is able to come to your home. Or, if they are unable to come to your home, take your own family into their home and decorate it with memories. A welcoming home, filled with colorful decorations, smells of the holiday traditions, and conversations of the generations. It was a magical time and will live in your heart and will help them remember.

You can’t help but hope that your loved ones will continue to have those same joyful memories, times two. However, with aging, comes the loss of some memories, and if they do still remember, it is not always with the same importance. Their thoughts often focus on the simple things, because at a certain point everything takes effort and energy. Their celebrations are in the moment and not as overwhelming. Including music and smells of their holiday’s past will often help them remember a bit and are a nice, gentle way of including those who have cognitive decline such as Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.

A care manager will be able to help you see if your loved one could use some extra help leading up to the holidays as well and may suggest in home care to assist.

In speaking with a home care companion recently she told me a story about a reluctant client, who shood her out the first day she visited. This was because the client was determined she could vacuum herself, didn’t need any company and was too busy to have help in her home. The client was 97 years old and had lived alone for 20 years. That caregiver was the client’s first outside help to visit. After working through the ways in which she could help and visiting a couple times a week as Christmas was approaching, the client began to see the value of having in home care help. The client’s family would be visiting her home for the holiday. The home care companion’s last visit before the holiday was Christmas Eve so she took the time to wash and set her client’s hair, painted her fingernails, and made sure she had a nice outfit ready to wear the next day. The home care companion also located some wrapping paper and took care of a few presents the client had for her family.

The client was delighted with the pampering. Her family was so pleased, they had not seen their mom looking and feeling so good in quite a while. The client and the home care companion continued with their pamper session especially on birthdays and holidays.

By finding the best care options for your loved one, you can make all the difference in how they celebrate and enjoy special occasions and holidays. This helps avoid loneliness and keep them involved through all their levels of ability to participate.

If you or someone in your family are facing these or other concerns about aging, please give us a call at 610-667-2838 or email us at CareManagement@waverlyheights.org. We’ll be happy to assist.