The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is drawing near. As you prepare for celebrations, family gatherings, and holiday shopping, you should also be mindful about keeping your senior loved ones healthy and safe during this busy time of year. While decorating, indulgent feasts, and winter snow may not phase you, these activities and others can be hazardous to a senior’s health. Follow these holiday health tips for seniors to keep your elderly loved ones healthy and happy all season long.
Promote Healthy Eating & Hydration
While many of us tend to over-indulge on rich foods and alcoholic beverages during the holidays, we can typically recover swiftly. But, this unhealthy behavior can be especially harmful to seniors who may already have health problems such as congestive heart failure or diabetes. If your elderly parent is planning to attend holiday gatherings, they will have plenty of opportunities to indulge and imbibe, so it’s important to stay on top of their dietary needs. These tips can ensure your loved one eat healthier this holiday season:
- Have them eat healthy meals before holiday gatherings. Before your loved one heads out to a celebration, prepare a light, healthy meal filled with vegetables and fruit to keep their diet on track. Eating ahead of time will fill them up with nourishment so they will be more likely to skip sweets and other unhealthy foods. If you are unable to prepare the meal, think about hiring a home health aide to ensure that nutritionally-sound meals and snacks are prepared and eaten at the right time every day.
- Bring a healthy dish to parties. If you are attending a holiday gathering with your loved ones, you can help your whole family eat more healthily by cooking up a nutritious dish or two. That way, everyone can enjoy lighter and healthier fare — and your parents won’t feel singled out.
- Make sure they eat and drink on a regular schedule. While the holiday season can be busy for everyone, your aging parents will be less tempted to over-indulge if they stick to a regular eating schedule at home. They will also feel less inclined to drink too much alcohol and feel fuller if they stay hydrated with plenty of water. Encourage your loved one to keep a bottle of water in the car or their handbag so they can easily hydrate during or between holiday gatherings. Entrusting their care to a trained home health aide can also ensure meals are eaten on schedule and hydration remains a priority.
Lend a Helping Hand
Many times, holiday meals and gatherings are spent at an elderly parent’s home. But, as your parents age, changing up traditions by offering to prepare the meal or cleaning up for guests can go a long way when it comes to their overall health and safety. Here’s how to lend a helping hand without seeming overly intrusive:
- Do you have a day off before the family gathering? Call your loved one and ask if they would like some company. While there, you can easily jump in and help with any tasks that they may already be in the middle of.
- Prepare the meal yourself and host the gathering at your home. Just be sure to ask your loved one to bring their favorite holiday dish so they can still contribute to the tradition.
Make Sure Decorations Are Safe
Putting up holiday decorations can be a joyous occasion for everyone, but seniors need to be especially cautious around decorations in their home and yours. Here’s how you can make sure decorations aren’t hazardous to your loved one’s health:
- Holiday floor arrangements and electrical cords must be placed out of walkways or in areas that don’t receive a lot of foot traffic. If they are in the way, your loved one could more easily fall especially if they are using a walker or cane.
- Make sure holiday trees are secured to their bases. This will help prevent them from toppling over and hurting your loved one.
- Inspect all holiday lights and extension cords before using them. If any bulbs are broken, or cords are frayed and kinked, buy new ones this year.
- Turn off holiday lights before leaving the house or going to sleep to help ward off fires. Newer holiday lights are much less likely to cause fires, but it’s always best to be cautious.
- Refrain from using floor rugs to conceal electrical cords. Lumps and bumps underneath rugs can cause your loved one to fall and hurt themselves.
Boost Their Sleep Health
If your parents are like most people, they have developed a sound bedtime routine. However, their routine can easily be thrown off during the holiday season due to get-togethers and late nights away from home. It’s critical for seniors to take time to rest and get enough sleep every day, and especially during this hectic time of year. You can ensure your loved one sticks to their routine by ending your holiday gatherings at a reasonable hour and hiring a home care companion to keep them on a regular sleep schedule.
Ward Off the Flu
Family gatherings, public places, and crowded houses are places where flu and cold germs abound during the holidays. Because aging seniors are more likely to experience serious complications from these illnesses, it’s important to help them prepare ahead of time. These tips can help ward off the flu and other illnesses during the holidays:
- Encourage them to get the seasonal flu shot.
- Keep fresh fruits and vegetables on hand for quick immune-boosting snacks while on the go.
- While holiday shopping, encourage them to use hand sanitizer and wipe down cart handles with antibacterial wipes.
- Make sure they are more conscious of frequent hand-washing (scrubbing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds) especially before eating and after coming into contact with someone who may be ill.
Shovel Snow & Clear Walkways
If your elderly loved one lives in an area like Akron, Ohio winter weather can also be a concern during the holidays. Not only can snowy and icy conditions lead to dangerous slips and falls, shoveling snow can result in joint injuries and other serious health conditions. Helping your aging parent shovel snow and clear icy walkways can help ensure they remain safe and in good health throughout the season.
- If you are unable to shovel walkways yourself, think about enlisting the help of other healthy family members, a younger neighbor, or a senior caregiver.
- If your loved one is in good health and already used to regular exercise, they may be able to shovel snow without a problem. But, there are still precautions that they should take to remain in good health such as taking plenty of breaks and staying hydrated. You can ensure their safety by supervising the job yourself or hiring an in-home senior companion to look after their wellbeing. A companion can also help with transportation when roads are slick, or visibility is diminished from winter precipitation.
Home Health Care Services Can Keep Seniors Healthy Over the Holidays
Enlisting help from a home health care agency can also keep your senior loved one safe and healthy during the holidays and all year round. Our personalized senior home health care services include specialized care for medical conditions and in-home companionship. Let My Family take care of your family this season. Contact us now for an in-home care assessment.
From our family to yours: We hope you and your loved ones have a healthy and happy holiday season!