Companionship During the Holiday Season
Some of our dearest memories include holidays spent with loved ones. Familiar sights and scents of the season are warm reminders of blissful gatherings we’ve shared. But some people can feel a sense of isolation amid the festivities. Ironically, the hustle and bustle of preparing for family get-togethers can prevent us from slowing down and enjoying the season with our loved ones. We can’t do it all but, by prioritizing, we can ensure a happier, more fulfilling holiday.
Make Time to Listen
- This year really focus on the stories. Ask questions; find something new in a tale you’ve been hearing for years. Laugh together. These new memories you’re making are as rich as the well-worn classics.
- Reach out often and arrange for your loved one to visit with friends, family members, or caregivers so they have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the human warmth the season has to offer.
- Don’t forget to make some time for yourself: While they’re away, choose to forgo some busywork and instead enjoy a quiet hour relaxing with a book or catching up with a friend.
Stay Active, Stay Healthy
Getting away from a fitness regimen is easy to do with all the extra activities December brings, but keeping up with daily walks and calisthenics plays an important role in mood stabilization, quantity and quality of sleep, relieving stress, and preventing illness. And we know that sticking to a routine keeps our loved ones feeling their best.
- Plan early in the month for your loved one to walk with you or a caregiver on a regular basis. A visual reminder on your calendar will help you prioritize your time and ensures this good habit continues into the new year.
- While you’re at it, make sure you both drink plenty of liquids to make up for the drier air. Keeping a bottle of water in the car for errands, enjoying water-based drinks like peppermint tea, and warming up with broth-based soups are all easy ways to stay hydrated.
- While it’s natural to indulge your sweet tooth this time of year—how often do we get to enjoy egg nog, anyway? —it’s too easy to lose track of empty calories eaten in the name of nostalgia. Stick to healthy meals and snacks most of the time so you can splurge on a few of the special foods exclusive to the holidays.
Our loved ones played a starring role in past holidays and many want to continue favorite traditions. To the extent they are able, encourage them to do so. Many activities that make this season hectic, our loved ones find rewarding.
- Enlist their help addressing or adding decorative stickers to greeting cards (or jotting a quick note to a few friends), wrapping gifts, decorating, and helping with holiday baking.
- Ask them to accompany you on errands: a quick shopping trip and lunch out is a welcome break, even with holiday crowds, and they’ll enjoy being included.
With all the exciting tastes and smells, don’t overlook your loved one’s other senses:
- Who doesn’t appreciate a pair of cozy slippers or a plush microfiber throw on a cold evening? (Keep these gifts safe by making sure the throw is a compact size and find slippers that are tight-fitting with a nonslip sole.)
- Music has been proven to calm people with Alzheimer’s and help them connect with caregivers. Happily, the available variety of holiday music offers something for every taste. An afternoon spent listening to their favorite, whether Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Elvis or Eartha Kitt, can bring a little well-deserved peace on earth to you both.
For more information on holiday ideas from the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America visit: Bringing Holiday Cheer to a Loved One Living with Alzheimer’s
For more information on the ability of art and music to enrich the lives of Alzheimer’s patients visit Alzheimer’s Association: Art and Music
For more information on dehydration during the winter visit: Cold Weather Increases Risk of Dehydration
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