Friday, November 18, 2011

Caregiver Considerations for the Holidays - Part 1

Connecting with Seniors during the Holidays
 
            Before you head into the express lane for holiday planning, take time to consider the concepts of re-wrapping and re-gifting as ways to connect with special seniors in your life. 

            Re-wrap your priorities to include the seniors in your life. They can miss the joy of the season by not engaging in the hustle and bustle their bodies seem less equipped to handle than in years gone by.
Family members and friends, traveling in the fast lane of the holiday hustle, often leave seniors behind during this season.Family gatherings can feel strained or obligatory for all, leaving the heart out of the events that are shared.

            Food, faith and fun are key concepts when reorganizing how you plan for your holiday season to include your seniors. A major key is thinking and planning head to make it work. 

            Make an appointment for your senior to come over for a cookie baking day. Many families already have 'baking days' but in the hustle and bustle they can leave grandma, grandpa, an aging aunt or neighbor out of the recipe. Set up the cooking area to make accommodations if needed. Move the cookie dough rolling into another room if Gramp’s wheelchair can roll there more easily. Add a pillow to the stool in the kitchen so Aunt Sue can help with sprinkles. The stories that will flow over the icing are sure to add flavor to every cookie, and the day. 

            Before planning that big holiday meal, share the stories of how the food traditions and favorite recipes traveled down the family tree. Call up the relatives from a distance or plan an interview time for relatives nearby. Let children help make recipe cards to share with family members. Setting time aside for children to start a recipe books with Grammi’s special holiday treats in mind will create a legacy they in turn will gift to their children. Grandma might not be able to do the baking anymore, but will enjoy tasting the treats her grandchildren made from her recipes!

             Just as you might have to dig for recipes, seek the deeper meaning of how your aging loved ones connect with the season that centers upon faith. Use family discussions, phone calls and special outings to enjoy the spiritual connection to the time of year - far away from shopping malls. Plan ahead to attend specific services that hold meaning for your aging loved ones, whether they are held at your own church or not. This provides a source for connecting with the past while planting memories for the younger generations where the focus isn’t on presents. 

            Plan a day where you ask an aging loved one (even the in-laws) what his or her childhood traditions were for celebrating the spirit of the holidays. Re-establish or re-live those traditions. In today’s traveling society, we often miss the connections to our faith roots. Plan a trip to visit the church that Grandma attended as a child and let her tell you and your family how holiday celebrations were held there. A trip down memory lane can be an incredible gift to a senior.

            By making an effort to plan time with the special seniors in your life into your holiday schedule, you’re participating in generational re-gifting and seasonal fun. Whether memories shared over cookie dough cut-outs, the stories told on a family outing, or the flavor of the recipes handed down through the generations, these no-cost gifts, shared between the generations keep giving.

 Author's note:  I'm interrupting the Hot Topics series to give you some thoughts for the fast approaching holiday season ... Hot Topics in Care and the Community Initiatives series will return though!

ACTION NOTE:  Caregivers, the enrollment/change period for Medicare coverage deadline is December 7th.  Take time to review your loved one's coverage and benefits to see if they match their current and future benefit needs. Make sure you review all parts of the coverage to ensure the best hospitalization, general medical, and prescription coverage!