Home for the Holidays

Quality of Life

As family, it is so important to usher in the holiday season with our aging loved ones. If they are suffering from chronic illness or dementia, it can be difficult to know how to fold them into the festivities. Sound Options offers a few tips and ideas to add to the quality of life this holiday season.

Tips to enhance the holidays

  • Cook a traditional family recipe together. Tasks like washing vegetables or stirring ingredients can be great ways to enlist the help of loved ones with dementia without risking safety.  
  • Plan a scrapbooking night where you gather copies of old photos. Let family arrange them in a scrapbook or on paper to tell a story.
  • Invite the family over to have a holiday decorating party. Put up lights, decorations, and new family photos.
  • Purchase a variety of flowers and let your loved one arrange them into a beautiful table or mantle centerpiece.
  • Host a talent show at their house. This can be a great excuse for grandchildren to show off (by playing their instrument for example) and adults to be silly.
  • Have a holiday craft making night and invite over family and friends of your loved one to bring their craft to work on together. Knit, make cards, embroidery, draw, the sky is the limit.
  • Invite family members to each bring over a crock pot of soup and have a Holiday Soup Bar. It is a delicious way to get together and share a meal with easy cleanup.
  • Put a fire in the fireplace and invite family over for a night of storytelling. Have guests bring a 2-3 minute story of their choosing or create a theme such as favorite holiday memory or the big dinner that went wrong!
  • Who doesn’t love an old holiday film? Invite your loved one over to watch a classic or drop off a set of films for your loved one to enjoy like Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, White Christmas, Meet Me in St. Louis, Rudolph, etc.
  • Bring the generations together by letting grandchildren or great grandchildren interview their grandparent and film it on your camera or smartphone.
  • Get some fresh air by taking a loved one on a drive around the neighborhood to look at holiday lights.
  • Invite loved ones over for family game night with favorite card and board games. Have everyone fill out slips of paper with one serious New Year’s resolution and one silly resolution and put them anonymously into the jar. Draw and read them out loud one at a time to get inspired and have a good laugh. 
  • Schedule a massage for your loved one as cold weather can aggravate aches and pains. Join in for a day of pampering to make it a bonding experience.  

Just In Case

The winter weather can be beautiful and cozy, but it is a good idea to make some emergency preparations, just in case the weather gets frightful. Here is a little safety checklist to go over for yourself and your loved one. For our full safety checklist click here.

  • Check your emergency home kit to make sure that you have backup food and potable water for 3 days.
  • In addition to nonperishable food, make sure you are stocked up on everyday items like toilet paper, garbage bags, and laundry detergent so you can go without a trip to the store for a few days. 
  • Make a list of utilities, vendors, or emergency contacts to call should vital services like power or heat go out. 
  • Make sure your furnace is in good working order and filters are cleaned out/ replaced.
  • Consider running an air purifier as increased furnace use and closed windows can cause poor air quality in the home. This can be especially helpful if your loved one suffers from COPD.
  • Make sure extension and light cords are cleared out of all pathways and get unplugged during sleeping hours at night.
  • Space heaters should be at least 3 feet away from flammable materials such as papers or blankets and should not be run at night. If you are using an extension cord, make sure that it is the proper wire gauge as an incorrect cord can become a fire hazard.  
  • If you choose to have a live tree in the home, make sure it stays well-watered and doesn’t become a dry fire hazard.
  • Give outdoor walkways and porches a look-over and make sure there are no loose banisters, steps, or cracking sidewalks that may be a tripping hazard. Stock up on sidewalk salt to spread on walkways, driveways and steps.
  • If your loved one is still driving, winter driving conditions such as ice and early sunsets can make even small errands hazardous. Create a plan together as a family for your loved one's needs to be met in the event that conditions change their independence. 

Aging in Place

If your loved one is aging in place, the end of the year can be a great time to evaluate how the plan is going. Do there need to be modifications made to the home? Could your loved one benefit from a little assistance with everyday things like grocery shopping and meal preparation or medication reminders? Are there responsibilities that you as adult children are taking on that are becoming too much and need a different solution? Are there changes in care needs or chronic illnesses that need to be looked at? Is driving still a safe option for mom and dad?

These type of evaluative questions can be difficult to ask and even more difficult to answer, but it is important to be intentional about the way your family helps a loved one age in place. We often think that it happens as naturally as aging itself, but maintaining safety and a high quality of life takes our compassionate attention and courage. 

If your family could use a little extra help for the holidays, you have Sound Options in the Puget Sound region. From Geriatric Care Managers to In-Home Caregivers, our professionals can scale care to fit your needs from a few hours a week to 24 hour care to help you recover. We are here when you need us. Give us a call at 800.628.7649.  

Published on December 3, 2015.