Tips for Helping Seniors Cope with the Holidays

Tips for Helping Seniors Cope with the HolidaysThe holiday season is a time of joy and celebration for many people. However, it’s a time of despair for others. This is particularly true for seniors, who may have experienced significant losses throughout their lives. Sadness is compounded when a person is dealing with loneliness, mobility restrictions, or health problems. Aged individuals often struggle the most during the holidays. There are several things you can do to help seniors get through this difficult time.

  • Shop: If possible, take your loved one out to the stores to enjoy a day of shopping. To avoid crowds, go early in the day on a weekday. Allow plenty of time for frequent breaks and maybe stop for lunch or coffee. It’s important to keep things lighthearted and simple. Try not to let him or her get exhausted or overwhelmed. This should be an enjoyable, memorable experience for both of you. If the person is unable to go shopping due to mobility or health issues, consider an online shopping adventure. You could make this a really fun experience by bringing a laptop, decorations, music, and snacks. Spend some quality time with him, and give him the opportunity to select gifts for grandchildren, etc.
  • Task assistance: Help your loved one with holiday-related tasks around the house that she may be unable to perform alone. This might include hanging decorations, gift wrapping, or baking those special cookies that she always makes for the holidays. It could be a wonderful opportunity for older grandchildren to get involved and spend some quality time with grandparents.
  • Social activities: If your loved one enjoys community or religious activities, make sure he has adequate transportation to participate in these events.
  • Inclusion: Be sure to include your loved one in your holiday experience. Even if the person has mobility restrictions, she can still help with planning or simple craft projects. Involvement is the key here. She needs to feel that she is a part of the celebration.
  • Listen: This time of year may bring up feelings of grief, and it’s important to allow people to talk through their feelings. You don’t need to offer solutions or advice, simply listen and allow him to express his feelings openly and honestly. Reminisce with him, pull out some old photos if you like, and just allow him to sit in his memories and grief.
  • Avoid exhaustion: Everyone is so busy during the holidays. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. Make sure your loved one has enough downtime to avoid exhaustion. Frequent naps and rest are helpful to keep seniors healthy and active during these hectic times.

Older individuals are more likely to experience the “holiday blues.” Pay close attention to your aging loved ones to ensure they don’t slip into depression. Make sure the seniors in your life feel included and understand how important they are during the holiday season.   

 

What Is a CCRC, and How Do I Select the Right One?

memory-care A continuing care retirement community (CCRC) is an ideal senior-living option for those planning to “age in place.” A typical CCRC offers several housing choices, as part of a continuum of care. These generally include independent living, assisted living,Skilled nursing (also known as nursing homes),and, sometimes, memory-care units. They can be the most expensive accommodations for aging adults, but they can be worth the cost. Residents have the flexibility to expand and change services as needed, without having to move to a new community. Care is individualized, and therefore it is more precise.

CCRC Services

Most community operators encourage residents to socialize, offering numerous education and entertainment programs. Other basic services may include the following:

  • health care services
  • meal preparation
  • personal care and hygiene
  • housekeeping
  • transportation
  • emergency assistance

3 Common CCRC Contract Types

  1. Extensive – Also called life contracts, extensive contracts are the most expensive because they include health care services and assisted living with no additional fees.
  2. Modified contract – A modified contract is similar to an extensive contract, except health care services are limited. If a resident needs additional services, he or she is charged a separate fee.
  3. Fee per service – This contract is less expensive initially. However, residents are charged for services on an as-needed basis.

Selecting the Right Community

It’s important to note the financial health of any prospective CCRC. These communities are very costly to maintain and tend to cut resident services when they are struggling financially. You want to ensure that this is not going to be a problem for your loved one in the future. An easy way to determine if a community is financially stable is to check residency rates. Such rates should be at or near capacity to maintain financial wellness.

Do some research online as well. Medicare.gov can provide ratings for skilled nursing facilities, as do individual state’s long term care ombudsmen. And there are a number of resources available to help you through the evaluation process.

Compare the costs to the cost for maintaining your loved one in their current home. Costs like transportation, companion care, housekeeping, transportation, meals, and medication assistance when added to mortgage or rent costs can end up being the same or more as a CCRC, so don’t automatically assume a CCRC is out of their budget range. Also consider if the community has an “entrance fee,” a one-time up-front payment and whether that is partially refundable. And don’t be afraid to ask what the annual increase is so that can be factored into your loved one’s budget.

Evaluation Tips

If possible, spend a few days in a community observing and assessing it. Some important factors to consider include the following:

  • The property – Is the facility properly maintained? Check the interior and exterior of the community. Does it feel like home, or does it seem institutional? It should be comfortable and homey so your loved one is at ease.
  • The residents – Speak with the residents. Inquire about their experiences in the community. Are they happy with the services? Do they have issues or complaints? Do they feel as though it is a good value? Most importantly, are these residents the type of people whom you want as friends and neighbors?
  • The staff – Speak with the staff to determine if they are friendly and genuinely caring. Ask to see licenses and credentials. Look at recent inspection reports. Make sure to inquire about any complaint investigations.

Finding the right community for your loved one is crucial to his or her happiness and well-being. Take your time with this endeavor. Above all, trust your instincts. If something feels “wrong” with a community, simply scratch it off your list and move on.

CCRCs offer wonderful senior-living solutions. As always, due diligence is the key to selecting the right services for your aging loved ones.

Tips for Depressed Seniors

Tips for Depressed Seniors Depression is a common problem for the elderly. However, it should not be accepted as a normal or necessary part of aging. Treatment is available for this condition. If you believe your elderly loved one is suffering from depression, seek help immediately. Below are some tips to assist you.

 

Recognizing Depression

The first step is to observe your loved one and determine if she is, in fact, suffering from depression. A few of the more obvious signs include:

Increased or decreased appetite

Lack of energy

Loss of interest in activities

Increased sleep

The important thing to look for is a change in behavior. For example, if your mother went to church every sunday for the past five years but no longer attends because she prefers to sleep, this is a red flag.

Tips for Fighting Depression

Socialize

It is crucial for elderly people to have a social network. Creating new friendships and fostering existing relationships has an enormous impact on increasing overall happiness and wellness. There are numerous ways seniors can make new friends. Some of these include attending church, joining a book club, taking a class, or just spending time in a local coffee shop.

Restrict Alcohol and Drugs

It is estimated that at least 17% of seniors have a substance abuse problem. They often try to self medicate with drugs and alcohol to suppress pain from physical ailments or to escape anxiety and depression. However, drugs and alcohol exacerbate depression in the long-term. It is also very dangerous to mix alcohol with various medications and since most elderly people take numerous medications, this can be lethal.

Improve Sleep

Sleep deprivation is a significant contributing factor to depression. Seniors often experience interrupted sleep cycles, which puts them at risk for depression. Treat insomnia to avoid this. Read our article on seniors and sleep for more information.

Grief versus Depression

Most elderly people have experienced the loss of friends and loved ones. It is useful to understand the difference between grief and depression. Grief typically resolves itself over time while depression requires proactive methods for improvement. Grief comes in bursts of intense emotion and depression is a persistent long-term condition. Grief can lead to depression, so if your loved one seems to linger in grief for too long, it may be a sign that they are slipping into a state of depression.

Depression is a serious issue for people of all ages. It is particularly dangerous for elderly people since they are already at risk for so many other issues. If you suspect your loved one is depressed, please seek assistance immediately.