Today we at LivHOME are starting our Caregiver Highlight Blog series. We know that the holidays can be a lonely time for our elderly loved ones. We will highlights our caregiver friends and interview them about how to make the holidays enjoyable for everyone.
Our first guest blog is from David Jenner a manager at Senior Planning in Phoenix, Arizona.
For elderly or disabled people who are receiving long term care, either as patients at an assisted living home or under the supervision of a care agency at home, the holidays can be a difficult time. A major factor in this can be that seniors who are unable to travel often feel isolated from their family members during the holiday season. They themselves are unable to travel, not can they stand up to the pressures of hosting their families at their residences. Circumstances often conspire to level seniors whose families have moved to other parts of the country alone for the holiday season. Combined with the fact that many people in this situation have already lost their spouse, it’s not hard to see how seniors under the care of LTC providers might be filled with lonely feelings during the winter months. Fortunately, many caregivers see this as an opportunity to do some good work.
They key for caregivers and families is to work cooperatively to make sure that seniors can have a special holiday. The key is communication. Many families are unsure of how much can be done for their family members, and might be too shy to ask. Caregivers might consider communicating with families as we approach the holidays to find out what they can do help make their relative’s holiday special. As senior health professionals, we must always realize that our patients’ families don’t always have a good idea of how things work and what sort of things they can ask for. Several assisted living communities that I’ve worked with contact families of their residents who live out of state, offering to take delivery of Christmas presents and put them under the tree for their residents on Christmas day. Simple actions like this can bring together an unexpected and positive experience for seniors who cannot be with their families on Christmas day.
We must also keep in mind that seniors and disabled individuals who are under care and alone during the holidays will react to this in their own individual way. Caregivers should be careful in how they approach their goal of making the holidays less lonely for their patients. Some patients may consider pity to be condescending, and it may upset them further. Caregivers should try their best to know their patients and approach them in a sensitive way. Senior care is never a “one size fits all” profession.