How to Meet a Senior’s Needs During the Holidays and Signs They Need Extra Support

Brimming with opportunities to slow the pace of daily life and catch up with loved ones and friends, the holidays are hallmarked by values including generosity, connection, and love. A truly special time of year for many, the festive season is the perfect time to bring every generation of the family together in celebration.

While fondly known as the most wonderful time of the year, the holidays can be challenging for older adults. For seniors facing issues like poor mobility, cognitive decline, grief, or a chronic health condition, the season can feel stressful, overwhelming, and even lonely.

How to Meet Three Key Senior Needs During the Holidays 

Need #1: Social Connections and Family/Community Support 

An AARP Foundation study conducted in 2017 found that 28% of seniors aged 50+ have felt lonely during the holidays. With a significant portion of seniors living alone (perhaps having also lost their spouse), it’s not surprising. Feelings of loneliness can be further exacerbated by health issues like poor mobility or dementia that prevent seniors from leaving their homes as much as they’d like to.

How to Help During the Holidays:

    • Visit your loved one often, perhaps arranging for a different family member to visit each day. If they’re in a senior living community, note any social events hosted for residents and their families.
    • Adapt family occasions to meet their needs and encourage them to socialize in a way that works for them.
    • If they lack access to transportation, offer to drive them to events and meet-ups with friends during the holiday season.

Need #2: Nutritious, Enjoyable Food

Good nutrition is essential throughout one’s lifetime, but eating the right foods becomes even more critical when one reaches one’s senior years. Excellent nutrition can help prevent a whole host of diseases that are more common in older adults, including cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis. Poor nutrition may also hinder wound healing and weaken the immune system, leaving seniors vulnerable to infections. Unfortunately, up to 50% of older adults in the US are malnourished, facing common issues like reduced appetite, poor dental health, and dementia.

How to Help During the Holidays:

    • Be mindful of any specific dietary requirements your loved one has, and make sure there’s food available to suit their needs at family gatherings.
    • If indulging in lots of heavy meals causes your loved one discomfort, offer some lighter options. Soups can be a great choice; they’re easy to make and the perfect winter warmer!
    • Offer practical help with eating if needed.

Need #3: Activities of Daily Living

If a senior needs help with activities of daily living (ADLs) like moving around, using the bathroom, grooming, and eating, leaving the familiarity of their home to attend festive social occasions may feel daunting.

How to Help During the Holidays:

    • Put some thought into the venues used for festive family events. For example, if your loved one has poor mobility, consider which relative’s home has the best accessibility (e.g., downstairs toilet, few steps/inclines, etc.)
    • If your parent or loved one cannot visit the mall independently due to poor mobility, offer to accompany them or pick up some gifts on their behalf.
    • Bring the holidays to them! Why not host a small family gathering at their home, allowing them to benefit from connecting with loved ones without leaving their safe space?

Signs Your Parent Could Benefit from Senior Living

The family-focused nature of the holidays means that relatives often spend more time with elderly loved ones. As a result, it’s a common time in the year for family caregivers to realize their senior parent or relative’s health has deteriorated. 

The season itself can also give rise to some new challenges. For example, if it gets colder where they live, this could prevent seniors from getting out into the community to socialize or run errands. Infections like colds and flu may also become more of a risk in the final months of the year.

Here are just a few key warning signs that your loved one may need a higher level of senior care from an assisted living community:

    • They’re struggling to move around their home or have unexplained cuts and bruises. This could indicate that they’ve suffered a fall or had an accident.
    • Their home is full of unpaid bills or other necessary paperwork that needs attending. This could indicate memory loss or other cognitive issues. 
    • They’ve lost a noticeable amount of weight, or their cupboards are empty/full of expired food. This might suggest they need help buying groceries or cannot successfully prepare and cook meals.
    • Their personality or behavior seems different. Perhaps they’re unusually withdrawn or restless, or maybe they’re uncharacteristically irritable. Changes in mood and personality could be signs of cognitive decline or a mental health issue like depression or anxiety.
    • Their home is in disarray. This could be due to a range of physical or mental health issues, including poor mobility, depression, and arthritis.
    • Their hygiene could be better. A decline in hygiene might suggest they struggle and need help to bathe or shower independently. It could also be indicative of poor mental well-being or forgetfulness due to a neurocognitive condition like Alzheimer’s.

Benefits of Assisted Living at Silverleaf Eldercare

Assisted living could be the perfect solution if you notice a loved one struggling over holidays. Communities like Silverleaf Eldercare allow seniors to remain independent while providing the safety net of caregiver support that is available 24/7.

Silverleaf Eldercare residents benefit from:

    • Person-centered senior care from highly trained, patient, and compassionate professional caregivers.
    • An exceptionally high staff-to-resident ratio that allows for truly holistic, attentive support.
    • Chef-prepared meals catered to their personal tastes and dietary requirements.
    • A wide range of activities and classes to suit varied interests. Our team also strives to help each resident pursue a passion project and continue to enjoy treasured hobbies.
    • Modern technologies like CarePredict and iN2L improve health, safety, staff responsiveness, and daily enrichment.

Explore our website for more details on our exceptional services and amenities, or call us to organize a personalized tour of Silverleaf Eldercare this holiday season. We look forward to meeting you!