The holidays are a time when we connect and make memories with the ones who mean the most to us. But it seems that the longer we live the more complicated life can become for us. Remembering lost loved ones and happy times gone can be heart-warming but can cause seniors to feel sad.
Factors to Consider for Seniors Facing the Holidays:
- Lack of Memories – having cognitive memory impairment leading to a sense of helplessness – especially when aware of memory deficits (Am I losing my mind?)
- Limited Mobility – medical conditions or injury can prohibit full mobility resulting in the need for walker or wheelchair. Being unable to move as in the past can hinder an individual’s ability to fully participate in the holiday celebration, causing sadness. (I can’t keep up.)
- Living Alone – According to the Administration on Aging 1 out of 8 Americans is now over 65, and 28% live alone. Many seniors do not have regular contact with others, putting them at risk of health conditions like dementia and other diseases. (I’m out of touch.)
- Living in a Facility – Home is where the heart is. Many seniors long for the comforts of their own home and reminisce about the holiday traditions created there over the years. (I’m not at home here.)
- Financial Stress – Many seniors are living on a more limited fixed income than anticipated and may feel inadequate when it comes time for family to unwrap the gifts from the senior. (I’m ashamed.)
- Depression – It is important to note that some sadness during the holiday season is a normal experience for individuals, including seniors. However, if symptoms of depression continue much beyond the season schedule an appointment with a medical professional. (I don’t feel like doing anything.)
Here are 4 gift ideas that can help to ensure quality of life and restore feelings of independence for elderly adults:
- The Gift of Home – Care Manager, Caregiver, Companion Services – Help with housekeeping, meal preparation, shopping, etc. Depending on the senior’s ability, arrange so they can order their groceries or prescriptions by phone or online and have them delivered to the house. This also provides peace of mind for you since you know their basic personal needs are being handled properly.
- The Gift of Freedom – Rides through Lyft or Uber – If your aging family member can’t safely drive why have them sit home alone? Services like Lyft and Uber are a reliable source for rides for excursions and appointments and can be a great gift. More peace of mind for you as you know they can get where they need to be and aren’t at risk from driving.
- The Gift of Financial Help that is Incognito – Gift cards to a restaurant, grocery store, veterinarian, pharmacy, etc. Also arrange for auto pay of regular household bills such as utilities, either from the senior’s bank account or from your bank account if they need financial assistance but are reluctant to accept help from you. You can pay for insurances, newspaper and magazine subscriptions, internet service, a weekly housekeeper, a lawn service, mobile auto detailer to come to their house, etc. More peace of mind for you since all these services add quality of life and safety for the older adult while you know that basic finances are being addressed.
- The Gift of Basic Human Comforts – Enabling them to live with quality of life that matters to them. A gift membership to a favorite magazine – like a gardening or social magazine; subscription to a service such as Amazon Prime or NetFlix; DVDs of their favorite movies or their home movies put onto DVDs; photos printed or available online; something from their youth like music that has been a part of their lives; getting them on Facebook with your family and their community.
It turns out that traditions do tend to change as we age. You should create new traditions with your older family member this holiday season. Talk together about the feelings they are having and help reassure them that someone is listening to them and is there for them.
Showing interest in their feelings and listening empathetically may be one of the very best gifts you can give.