Senior Health During the Holidays

As Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s approach, there are things you can do to help your senior loved ones stay healthy and happy during the holidays.

Dietary Needs

It can be difficult, and indeed seems cruel, to prohibit a person from enjoying their favorite holiday foods. For those with strict diets, try alternative recipes that deliver flavor without breaking the diet. For those who wish to avoid overeating, plan ahead: if you expect to eat a big holiday dinner, eat a light lunch.

Hydration and Drinking Alcohol

Everyone needs sufficient hydration. Seniors need to drink a lot of water. Those who take medications usually need even more water intake to help their bodies process the drugs without getting dehydrated. Additionally, alcohol interferes with many medications and exacerbates many conditions, so make sure a wide range of low-sugar, nonalcoholic beverages are available.

Reducing Holiday Stress

Stress contributes to physical health problems. Everyone has different limitations, and it’s important for seniors to not strain themselves physically, mentally, or financially. More labor-intensive traditions should be passed on to other relatives, without completely stripping older relatives of involvement. Schedule rest during days filled with travel and celebration, and take breaks when shopping.

Making Your Space Safe

Prevent falls and other potential medical emergencies by making your home accessible, removing tripping hazards, and making sure everyone can comfortably use the restroom without straining themselves.

Preventing Loneliness and Reducing Senior Isolation

When seniors live alone, it’s not uncommon for them to experience loneliness. This especially applies to those whose relatives are distant or out of touch. Spend time during the holidays with seniors in your community. Whether you host a holiday party at a senior living community, make gingerbread houses and gifts with seniors living at home, or simply take some extra time to chat with seniors who are out shopping by themselves, you can help to prevent the health issues associated with loneliness and depression.

Home care workers can reduce holiday stress by providing companionship, helping to manage diets, or giving respite to family members with caregiving responsibilities.