Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Make the Holidays Brighter

The holidays are a busy but wonderful time of the year for most of us. However, for an older adult who has physical and/or cognitive limitations, the holidays can be a confusing, depressing, and very stressful time of year. Here are a few tips for how you can make the holidays more enjoyable for the older adults in your life:
  • Reminisce: older adults with memory impairment have difficulty recalling recent events, but often times remember past events clearly. Allow them the opportunity to share their favorite memories. You might just learn something!
  • Plan accordingly: some older adults tire quickly or respond poorly to over stimulation. Avoid cramming too many activities in to one day. Allow the time for a nap if necessary. If your loved one becomes easily confused or agitated by noise, then set aside a quiet area for him or her to relax. Instead of having the entire family over for one visit, consider having a couple of holiday gatherings over a few days.
  • Physical environment: if older adults are visiting outside of their home, then ensure that the physical environment is a safe environment. Eliminate throw rugs and other tripping hazards. If visiting in the older adult's home, do not rearrange furniture as this can increase confusion.
  • Avoid embarrassment: an older adult with early memory impairment may embarrass easily if unable to remember an earlier conversation or the name of a rarely seen family member. Avoid adding to their embarrassment by saying, "Don't you remember?" They don't remember and no amount of prodding will make them remember.
  • Involve your loved one: invite them to help make cookies, wrap gifts, or set the dinner table. Involve them in the conversation at the holiday meal.
By making a few small adjustments, you'll guarantee a happier holiday season for all involved!


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