Ten Tips to Make Your Senior’s Holiday Perfect!

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My Georgie w guests at our table -Nice Times

My Georgie w guests at our table -Nice Times

Dear Francy; I have personally been under the weather lately with a nasty cold. I am usually on my own so when I visited a home with children I was exposed to a cold bug. It has taken me down and I have had to really fight to get well. So, take note and remember that seniors do not have the resistance to fight off “kid bugs”. Do not bring little ones to Grandma’s if you even think, they are getting a bug. I wanted to share how to handle holidays with your seniors…its easier than ever with the help of the Internet.  So here is a review of the things to keep in mind. Blessings on all of us who give care to our family members…its a big task to take on, but it represents the kindness and love you share with others…Thank YOU! f.

GREAT TIPS FOR SENIORS AT HOLIDAY TIME

  1. If your senior is out of town. Call today and order a Thanksgiving dinner to be delivered. Then let the senior know it’s coming; so they can invite a friend to join them. The dinners come in 2-4-6 and more so just pick a portion size that would give them a dinner with left-overs for great turkey sandwiches.
    Go online and look up “Turkey Dinners Delivered, Home Town” and up will pop, a few grocery stores, cafes, senior centers and such and you can choose. If your senior wants to go “out” to dinner. Find a senior center that will be serving and then call a cab company and make arrangements for a home pick-up. If the area is too small. Call the local community church and ask the pastor to guide you. The pastor will know what is available and tell him if he would arrange it, you would kindly send a

    Pies Ready for holiday dinner

    Pies Ready for holiday dinner

    gift to the church as a thank you. There is always a way…be creative. A dear friend of mine sent me a Christmas dinner box; when I was in the middle of caring for George one year. It meant the world to me. All I had to do was warm it up and we enjoyed it. No muss – no fuss. DO IT!

  2. Don’t give seniors a long day. If you are bringing the seniors to your place for dinner, limit the visit time. Pick-up should be an hour before dinner, then figure, dinner and one to two hours after dinner. Then take them home. For a senior that is not used to interacting with lots of people, they can only take so much time and use so much of their energy before they go downhill. They will wilt on the vine, if you don’t make their time easy, fun and fast…so they are home with a turkey sandwich in their hand for later and an extra piece of pie. They will rest and recall the lovely day you have gifted them.
  3. If you are visiting and bringing the senior dinner. Take over the teens and make sure they are healthy and just stay about 45 minutes. Long enough to get their dinner in place, chat with them about family things and then leave. Seniors do not have the energy to handle long visits with multiple people. But they love them….so be kind, make it fast but enjoyable for them. (I always use a glass pie plate to put the dinner in. It’s deep and holds a lot of food and can either be heating in the oven or microwave.)
  4. Leaving town? Make the holiday dinner before or after your return. Even if it is a dinner out. Let the senior know you love them by making your own holiday. Just because you go away for fun… they do not. Don’t leave them without a holiday meal and family memories.
  5. Live out of town? Then be sure your senior knows how to use SKYPE. I have a neighbor and dear friend with an elderly sister in New Zealand…well at least that is what they tell me. Because every time I go over…the phone rings and the sister is calling on SKYPE. The two sisters just chat away and enjoy their time together and they feel close and happy. Its like they are living two blocks away from each other. Its very sweet to watch. Gift that closeness to your senior. Either you or someone you know, goes over to the senior’s and sets-up the older computer on a phone and you just keep it for SKYPE. It will be so appreciated and fun for the senior. Don’t let them say they are afraid of the computer, make it work and let them practice over and over so you and your senior can be close even if there are thousands of miles between you. PS Lots of retirement centers now have SKYPE set up for their guests too.
  6. Holidays are family and family is tradition. So, take dad with you to get your Christmas tree…call mom and ask her, for the 100th time, how she makes her stuffing. Include your senior in the actual planning of the holiday and it will mean more to you and to them.
  7. Record the stories. It’s the stories you miss when an elder passes away. Stories
    1960's holiday w Grandma Mary n her GGGrandkids!

    1960’s holiday w Grandma Mary n her GGGrandkids!

    of people long gone and stories of how the world was many years before. Stories that young family members need to hear and to know. That way we all keep our web of history and we have our own feeling of belonging to our family, town and country. Record the stories at the dinner table. Make it a habit to put a phone out on the table with the record button on. Set it close to the elder in the family and then push the conversation around the table about Thanksgivings long ago. When other grandparents were alive, when the children were tiny and when life was different is what you want to hear. Those recordings can be saved on Ancestry.com and listened to for years and generations to come. It’s your own family treasure.

  8. Ask Grandpa to “help” you carve the turkey. Ask Grandma to “watch” you make the gravy. When you are older, people tend to do for you. You lose the feeling that you know something or can do something. Let your elder know; they have the ability to help you. My Grandma would come the day before the dinner and she would polish the silver and set the table. She really enjoyed it. She could sit and do it the silver. She could take her time doing the table, but when it was done, it was her’s. My mother was always grateful. They could talk while they worked and mom got out of polishing silver! What could your elder do?
  9. Food is a bridge to history in the family. Maybe your family is into a different diet than your elders, but still put something out that they remember. The good old fashioned green bean casserole with mushroom soup, or sweet potatoes with marshmallows topping may be off your list. But it could make your grandma’s dinner special. Remember traditions and honor the elders with a bit of extra work to present to them so the dinner is comforting.
  10. Keep the drinking, smoking, weed or whatever until the elders are taken home. No one will drop over if they wait until grandpa is taken home before they light up. It’s a kindness that families must adjust to when habits change. Interactions with family members can be heightened when people are using substances, so keep it calm and easy so the elder goes home happy…not upset and worried for the week to come. Be kind…it may be the last holiday you have with your senior. Take pictures, do hugs, sing songs, be silly…. life is too short not to do family things that bring everyone a smile.
Sister, Merrilee making her famous turkey gravy...Yumm!

Sister, Merrilee making her famous turkey gravy…Yumm!

Happy Holidays everyone…thank you for all the care giving you have gifted to your loved ones this year. We are all grateful you are there…francy

 

NO MORE HOLIDAY DÉCOR?

Seniors Need Holiday Decor

Keep Senior Happy at Holidays

Seniors Stay Healthy with Holiday Celebrations By francy Dickinson

Dear Francy; Mother lost Dad last April and this is her first holiday without him. She has decided that since it’s just her, in her small home she will not decorate for Christmas this year. She has always been heavy on the holiday decorating so I am surprised and worried it’s a sign of depression. Should I be pushing her into a therapy session?

Any therapy is always good for people to have when they have been through a loss of a close loved one. If you decide to go that route I think a senior support group with folks of similar experience would be wise instead of a heavy duty therapy session. Most seniors will go through all the stages of loss and it may take them longer than younger people…to process. Holidays without spouses are tough…so give her room to grow into the new person she has to now become.

NO MORE DÉCOR? NO WAY

I feel very strongly about décor of any kind for the seasons. Not just Christmas or Halloween, but all the seasons. As we all go through life on a busy highway; days begin to slip away so fast. One day is two weeks, then its three months and then it’s our birthday round again. To keep our minds in the present and to celebrate life’s seasons we need to remind ourselves of the season and the best way to do that is to decorate with touches of spring, summer, fall and winter.

Being alone is no excuse to ignore the celebration of life that goes on around you. There is not a season on our calendar that we do not find a holiday or special birthday or event…to celebrate. This way we make a point of the celebration and have something to look forward to and a way to use our creative side.

This idea that we can change what we eat and stop cooking properly or change how we clean our homes and live among a pile of newspapers — grows with the idea that being alone, means no one cares. WRONG. We have to care; our homes and our lives have to be led as though we are having friends over that evening for cake and coffee. It’s a mindset that needs to be instilled in small children and seniors. Live your life like you are prepared for an upcoming event…and an upcoming event will happen!

My mother lived a very long life in good health and totally busy at all times. She passed at 100 and she had made the most of her full life cycle. She would talk to me about all her girlfriends starting to age more and more. “Francy, she lives in a tiny hole of apartment and has no room for us to play cards.” Or “Francy, she let her hair go gray and instantly started walking so slow she gave up our walks at the mall.”

Mother would share these things with me. She watched others go through their idea of what was accepted as “Getting Old” or being “a Widow” and she never liked what she saw. So, mother kept her home up on a daily basis. She would get up and pick up the small but ample apartment she lived in each morning. She would have her breakfast and then do a little clean-up with dusting and doing her dishes. Then she would settle in and do some reading or her knitting. If the weather was nice she was outside working in the yard for a few hours and if the weather was bad she was meeting a friend for a walk in a covered spot. She got out and about twice a week. She baked pies, cookies and froze them for family a couple of times a week and she had her home ready for the season at all times.

Everyone enjoyed stopping to visit mother. Her home was clean, it smelled delightful, her coffee pot was always brewing fresh coffee and those cookies could be popped in the microwave for heating up at any time. It was always enjoyable.  On her own, she would sit in her living room and enjoy the clean open room and her décor for the upcoming holiday.

YES…the décor was minimal compared to her days of a big home, larger family or when her husband was alive. But the seasonal décor was important to her and she was always finding ways to make small statements that spread the cheer. Her door would have a hanging craft piece that she would find at the local craft fair. Her coffee table would have an arrangement fitting the colors and theme of the season. She would have a small table top tree and a village scene on her dining room table. She found ways to make the joy shout out, even if it was holiday towels in her bathroom or a pretty holiday theme platter or cookie jar on her kitchen counter top. All year long, she found ways of stating the season changes and that made her home special for us to visit…and for her to enjoy her life on her own.

Being inside of life as it moves is so important. If you allow yourself or your senior to sit in the dark and retreat they will begin a downward slide in their mental and physical health. And remember; the argument that, “I really don’t care anymore now that dad is gone” – does not work. First, family and friends are still in place and need the senior. Second; letting ourselves go down does not mean a pretty dying in your sleep. It means you could have a serious heart problem and not be able to breath and have to use oxygen all the time, you could have a stroke and have to drag your legs around or be bed-ridden. Trust me; life is not perfect…so the alternative? Change the outlook in small ways to keep things comforting for the  senior, but in flux. Change is scary, but it’s also exciting.

NO DO NOT MOVE WITHIN A FEW MONTHS OF LOSING YOUR SPOUSE. But make changes. Take their favorite chair out of the living area. Paint the walls, buy new throw pillows. Do things to slightly start to remove them from the home but not leave the spouse with a feeling of loss every day. So, change the décor for Christmas this year; but do not put up the big tree with all the family ornaments. Leave that stuff in a box till next year and then the senior can sort the ornaments and give them to family members for special childhood memory gifts. But this year; buy a new small tree; one that spins or has those lovely laser lights inside that change color. Buy a poinsettia for the cocktail table and a nice fresh wreath for “inside” the front door so the pine scent spreads around the house or apartment. Put up some new holiday towels in the bathroom and ready a spot in the kitchen for the holiday cards. Have your mom take a picture of her and all her grandkids dressed in hats, scarves and gloves and use that as her holiday greeting card. Get her tickets to the local holiday performance of “the Singing Christmas Tree” “Nutcracker” or church play. Allow her to have her calendar filled with weekly things she will do with family and friends or the senior center. Keep her busy. So she can start to restructure what she feels is a happy holiday.

Happiness comes in all sizes and within funny events. It may be helpful to take your senior shopping for small grandkids gifts. It may be best for you to have a teen grandchild come over and do all the wrapping for grandma. It may be best to bring the senior over to your home on the Christmas cookie baking day and have her do the dishes while you whirl around your kitchen. Holidays can be remade and invented for all of us-as we age. But holidays and seasons, make our lives special. To give that up is a step towards being a sad and lonely person.

To change our lives just enough to move us into a new and rewarding future is the key for us all. Making new traditions is not hard, it just takes loving hearts and hands to help the senior see the new sights from a different window.

Blessings on all you do for your mom, francy

   Francy with Missy  Come and enjoy more info at www.SeniorCareWithSpirit.com  

  PS: 

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