Caregivers can make holiday times special for a senior in their care

With the holidays fast approaching, it's a good time to give some thought to companion care which you might be providing to either senior loved ones, or to senior clients whom you provide home care to. Holidays are often times of particular stress to seniors, as they remember happier times of the past when family was together and there was much more interaction among family members. While circumstances may have changed for them significantly, the holidays can still be a time of joy and special significance for them, when caregivers help to make it so.

November happens to be National Family Caregivers Month, and this year's theme has been designated 'Caregiving Around the Clock'. November is an especially appropriate month for that kind of sentiment, with Thanksgiving falling on the 23rd, and with Christmas a scant month later. Helping loved ones and senior caregiving clients enjoy this season of caring can be a wonderful and rewarding activity for everyone - but how exactly do you go about that? Here are some helpful caregiving tips which should help to significantly add to seniors' enjoyment of this special time of year. 

Spend Quality Time

Your duties as caregiver naturally require you to be with your senior charge a great deal, so spending time with them might seem like something of a redundancy. But - how often when you're involved with caregiving do you actually spend quality time with someone you're caring for? Just being around a senior, and carrying out household tasks, providing assistance with bathing, dressing, and walking, doesn't necessarily mean spending real quality time, and connecting on a personal level. 

Quality time has more to do with a truly personal exchange, where you provide companionship in addition to everyday kinds of assistance. Since the holidays may recall memories of missing family members and long-faded joyous events, why not help your patient to re-live some of those pleasant times, by going through old photo albums? Even if no such photos or reminders are accessible, spending one-on-one time with a senior can banish some of the loneliness they might be feeling, and make them feel much more involved - which in turn, leads to greater enjoyment.

Involve Them in Holiday Plans

It might make a world of difference to a senior who feels neglected and shoved aside to actually be consulted about plans for the holidays. Family members might arrange for a special trip to the mall or to see local holiday displays, and home caregivers can do something similar. If loved ones are not nearby, a home caregiver can still take a senior out shopping, or to see the town Christmas Tree or possibly even an outdoor skating rink.

Holiday meal plans can include a senior's special favorite dishes, simply by asking them what they would like to have made, or even better, by enlisting their aid in making that special dish. Putting up holiday decorations in the home is another great way to get a senior involved, and enjoying the holiday season much more. 

Encourage More Activity

Sitting around the house doing nothing can naturally lead to a feeling of depression and disconnectedness. By encouraging a senior to get up and move around regularly, many of the negative feelings can be left behind and can be replaced by a more positive outlook. Exercise releases endorphins in the brain, the 'feel-good' hormones of the body that gives you a good feeling, and that's something every senior would benefit from. When someone is active and moving around, they have an opportunity to observe the world around them and participate in it on some level, as opposed to the disengagement associated with sitting in a chair for hours on end.

Arrange a Small Party

If it's at all possible, try hosting a small get-together for a senior in your charge. Even a couple friends in the area or a loved one who has not visited in a while might be a real tonic for a senior who rarely has such opportunities. This can be a wonderful chance for old friends to catch up and reminisce about happier times, and it can be great fun to plan for.

You can involve your senior charge with preparing special treats to be served, planning any activities which guests can participate in, and consider ideas for staying in touch in the future. For just a little while, making your elderly patient the center of attention will make him/her feel very special, and will probably generate lasting memories that become the best holiday presents.

Extending the Concept

Holiday times can be pretty special for everyone because it's that time of the year when many people feel more charitable and more aware of their fellow humans. But holiday season doesn't have to be the only time of the year that these worthy sentiments are expressed toward others. If you find that some of the ideas discussed above do have special meaning and value for the senior in your care, why not extend that notion to other times of the year as well? After all, the season of caring should last all year long.