Tag Archives: Holidays

Have A Stress-free Holiday Season

OverwhelmedCaregiving is stressful. Of that there is no denying and when you add the holiday hustle and bustle into the mix, you have the potential to amp up the stress and reduce the joy you should be experiencing this holiday season. When you take a step back and think about it, the holidays are about friends and family and being together; it’s not about perfection and a clean house!

Here are some tips that you can take to heart to help make certain your holiday is enjoyable and as stress-free as it can be:

  • The holidays are not about perfection: the perfect tree, the perfect meal, the perfectly cleaned home. Keep your decorations low-key, you don’t have to outdo the neighbors with your light display. Decorate with items that have particular meaning to you and your family without going overboard with totes and totes of decorations that need to be unpacked and then re-packed once the holiday has passed.
  • If you’re being invited to visit friends or relatives and there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in a day – with work, caring for aging relatives and your own family – don’t be afraid to set limits. “We would love to come and visit, but can only stay a couple of hours.” Set the expectations up front and stick to your time frame.
  • You don’t have to do it alone. Would your family disown you if you purchased a pie or two rather than making them? Could you get away with bakery cookies? Try it and see how many hours you could free up from not spending all of your time in the kitchen. If you simply can’t give up that part of your family tradition, then start a new tradition and ask for help. Also, don’t be afraid to delegate. If you need to, hire a housecleaning service to come in and do a deep clean on your home before the relatives arrive. Ask guests to bring a dish to pass – start a new tradition by adding your guests’ favorite dishes to your menu!
  • If someone asks you what you’d like for a gift, don’t say, “Oh, I don’t know or I don’t need anything.” Let them treat you if they want to! Ask for a gift certificate for a massage or a restaurant or tickets to a movie or a play you’d been dying to see. Ask them to pay for a trip to your favorite spa or salon!
  • Take time to share family stories. If you’re gathering family stories, make sure someone is recording them – either digitally or on paper – and take photos so you can capture the memories shared and have them as a physical token of your time together.
  • When you send your greeting cards, include a note that reads, “Mom and Dad are doing XYZ… it’s been a great, or a trying year, but we are moving forward.” Keep the note non-accusatory and you just might garner assistance from distant relatives who truly may not know what you’re doing as a caregiver.
  • Don’t be afraid to say “no.” If you truly don’t have the energy to attend another party or make another of your “famous pumpkin pies” then say so. Don’t make excuses, simply say you don’t have time and leave it at that, but thank them for having asked you.
  • Take time to count your blessings. Yes, the role of caregiver can be an exhausting one, but there are rewards. You are spending quality time with your aging loved ones. You are providing them with love and support and helping them to age in place. Even if they are in an assisted living or a nursing home environment, you will still likely be called upon or feel compelled to visit regularly and that can be a strain as well. Make the time you spend there quality time talking, playing games and sharing memories.
  • Ask siblings or other relatives to help chip in for a Medical Alert System. The peace of mind in knowing that your relatives will have immediate access to a trained professional from  if they suffer a medical emergency or a fall while you are not in attendance may allow you to regain some freedom without having the worry of them being alone.

Take time, amidst the rush of the season to care for yourself and to sit back and simply relax!



Holiday Safety

The holiday season is usually a joyful time of year meant for getting together with family and friends.  It’s a time to reflect on our lives and loved ones, and certainly a time for celebration.  The holiday season, with it’s celebrations and it’s decorations, is not without its health and safety risks.  In fact, it can be one of the most dangerous times of year for seniors.   Here are tips for keeping your loved one safe during the Holidays.

 Be Prepared: the Key to Senior Safety During the Winter and Holidays

From Comfort Keepers.com

Winter is an especially important time to keep an eye on seniors to make sure they are living as safely, healthfully and happily as possible.

Here are a few tips to help seniors during the season:

  • Check on elderly loved ones regularly, or if you live out of town, arrange for neighbors to check in and provide their number to call in emergencies.
  • Help your loved one arrange for someone to keep sidewalks shoveled and de-iced.
  • Make sure seniors have emergency supplies.
  • Arrange for transportation during severe weather to medical appointments or the grocery store.
  • If your loved one is physically or cognitively impaired, arrange for someone to stay with him during weather emergencies.

Holiday Safety Tips

Trees, lights and candles an important part of holiday traditions but pose a danger when not used safely.

Tree and decoration tips:

  • Buy an artificial tree that is labeled “fire resistant.”
  • Choose a live tree that has green needles that do not break when bent between the fingers. The bottom of the tree should be sticky with resin. When tapped on the ground, the tree should lose only a few needles.
  • Place trees away from fireplaces, vents and radiators. If using a live tree, remember to keep the stand filled with water.
  • Use only noncombustible or flame-resistant decorations.

Lighting tips:

  • Use indoor and outdoor lights that have been tested for safety by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. Use only newer lights that have thicker wiring and safety fuses to prevent wires from overheating.
  • Before using, check lights for cracked sockets, damaged wires or loose connections. Throw out broken sets.
  • Follow manufacturer’s guidelines for stringing lights together. UL recommends using no more than three standard-size sets of lights together.
  • Make sure extension cords are rated for the intended use.
  • Check outdoor light labels to make sure they have been certified for outdoor use. Only plug them into a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protected receptacle or a portable GFCI.
  • Turn off lights before going to bed or leaving the house.

Candle tips:

  • Keep burning candles within sight.
  • Keep candles out of reach of small children and pets.
  • Extinguish candles before going to bed or leaving the room or house. Do not leave children, or adults with dementia, alone in a room with burning candles.
  • Keep lighted candles away from items that can catch fire, such as trees, decorations, curtains and furniture.
  • Always use non-flammable holders.
  • Use battery-powered candles whenever possible to avoid fire risk.

Fireplace tips:

  • Do not burn wrapping paper or plastic items in the fireplace. They can ignite suddenly and burn intensely.
  • Place a screen around the fireplace to prevent sparks from igniting nearby materials.

Keeping Walks Clear

Falls are always a concern for seniors. Winter poses a special risk, so put down road salt, cat litter or sand to keep sidewalks, steps and driveways as slip-free as possible.

Persons over age 65 — especially those with a history of high blood pressure and heart disease — should leave snow shoveling to others. The combination of strenuous work and blood vessels constricted by the cold air raises the risk of heart attack. Falls and severe muscle strains are also risks.

However, seniors who are able to shovel walks should:

  • Dress warmly and in layers, along with a hat and gloves, to retain body heat and prevent hypothermia. To avoid slipping, wear boots with non-skid soles.
  • Before starting, limber up with light warm-up exercises.
  • Push the snow in front of you, rather than try to lift it. If you must lift, pick up small amounts and lift with your legs, not your back.
  • Take frequent breaks. If you become dizzy or numb, stop immediately and go inside. Call 911 if you experience chest pain or other heart attack symptoms.

Protect Against Hypothermia

Seniors generally produce less body heat. That makes them especially susceptible to hypothermia, which if not detected early, can be extremely dangerous. Conditions such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease and severe arthritis — even some medications — can limit the body’s response to cold, leaving seniors even more vulnerable.

Hypothermia prevention tips:

  • Limit time outdoors and stay indoors on windy days. Go inside if you begin shivering.
  • Wear warm, layered clothing of natural fibers. To reduce heat loss, wear a hat, gloves, warm socks and boots. Cover your mouth to protect your lungs.
  • Keep the thermostat at a comfortable level, wear warm clothing and use enough blankets to stay warm at night.
  • To keep your body temperature up, eat hot, nourishing meals and drink warm beverages.

Seek medical attention immediately for anyone you believe is suffering from hypothermia. Keep the person dry and warm with blankets. Do not rub limbs to warm them. Encourage the person to drink hot, nonalcoholic, caffeine-free beverages.

Home Heating Safety

House fires are a special concern for seniors. They also need to beware of the dangers of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide replaces oxygen in the bloodstream and can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, convulsions and even death. The effects can happen even faster for someone with a respiratory or heart condition.

To prevent home heating problems:

  • Have all chimneys and flues inspected yearly and cleaned as needed.
  • Before winter, have the furnace inspected to make certain it is in good, safe operating condition.
  • Install smoke detectors on all floors and carbon monoxide detectors in areas where fuels are being burned. Replace batteries annually.
  • Open a window slightly when using a kerosene stove.
  • Place space heaters at least three feet from curtains, bedding, furniture and anything else that might burn.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy, replace as needed and know how to use it.

Winter Driving

Avoid driving during and after winter storms, but if you must drive:

  • Keep the gas tank full.
  • Let someone know your destination, route and expected time of arrival. Bring your cell phone.
  • Keep an emergency travel kit in the trunk, including a snow shovel, blankets, flashlight, water and first aid kit
  • If your car gets stuck, stay with it. Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow, so fumes do not back up in the car. Keep arms and legs moving to keep blood circulating and stay warm. Keep a window open to let in air.

For more information on winter safety and other emergency preparedness tips, visit the American Red Cross.

Prepare Now For Caregiving Tasks For The Holidays

It may seem like it’s too early to begin thinking about the holidays, but once October hits the months tend to become a blur. If you’re a caregiver that is in charge of caring for your own family, holding down a job and caring for sick or elderly parents, planning and preparation is crucial to an enjoyable holiday for all involved.

What steps can you take now prior to the busyness of the holiday season so that you can enjoy both the holiday and time with your friends and family? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Make certain your aging relative is healthy before the holidays roll around. Do they need to get a flu shot or an annual check-up? Schedule those before the season picks up. Ask their primary care doctor about the medications they are on and whether they’re still up to date with everything they’re taking.
  • Know all that you can about how the stress of the holiday might impact your loved one. If your mom or dad has been recently widowed, the holidays could be a painful time for them. Be cognizant of that fact. Understand what other medical conditions they might have that could make it difficult for them around the holidays – dementia could mean they could be fearful in situations in which they aren’t accustomed to.
  • If your relatives will be traveling for the holidays, be aware that their home medical alert system with LifeFone can travel with them. You need only contact LifeFone to let them know the new location and the duration of the stay. Having their personal medical device with them when they travel is a great idea.

Caring for yourself during the holidays is as important, if not more so, than caring for the health of your aging parents. What can you do to make certain you’re healthy? Here are some tips:

  • Have a check up with your family physician and get a flu shot if necessary.
  • Make certain you take time to eat healthy meals, even if you’re on the run with errands. Pack healthy take along snacks and prepare meals at home so you’re not tempted by fast food.
  • If you can’t make it to the gym, get a piece of exercise equipment for your home that you are sure to use. Whether it’s a treadmill or a DVD of exercise routines, staying fit, healthy and active will help you deal with the holiday madness to come!
  • Take time to enjoy those holiday traditions that are solely yours and those that are part of your extended family. If you need to excuse yourself for an afternoon to work on holiday crochet projects or to do some scrapbooking or to simply wander the malls by yourself, you need to make time for yourself – your mental health will thank you.
  • Connect with other caregivers and ask how they handle holiday and family and caregiving. Caregiving can be stressful during the best of times during the year but for many of us, the holidays add additional pressure. Talking to someone in your same situation can be more than beneficial.
  • Don’t forget to ask your aging relatives what they’d like to do for the holidays. Do they have a special tradition that they’d like to incorporate? Try to make that happen so that the holidays are as memorable for everyone as they can be.

Start today, putting your holiday plans in place, whether it’s looking at a calendar and determining who will be cooking the holiday meals and when the more pre-planning you do, the more enjoyable the months ahead will be.







Preparing for Holiday Travel

You’ve managed to get all your Holiday gifts purchased and wrapped, you’ve sent out the cards and packages at the post office, you’re looking ahead to all the parties at work or with friends and you’re already worn out! There’s still “THE DAY”!

If you’re flying to see relatives this holiday season, you may want to review these suggestions to help relieve stress and make things go more smoothly.

Be prepared:

Pack early to ensure you don’t forget anything!

Five Ways To Reduce Holiday Family Stress

Holidays bring with them holiday stress and when you’re a caregiver you may be dealing with more than your usual levels of stress because you know that there are not enough hours in a “regular” day to juggle the activities the holidays bring. You may wonder how you’ll get everything done – taking care of your parents, your children, your significant other and of course, yourself.

Here are a few steps you can take to reduce your holiday stress this season:

  1. What are your holiday priorities and traditions? What are your obligations to those traditions? Can you let some of the obligations slide? Is it time to rethink priorities and traditions to accommodate the change in family dynamics? If items like baking dozens of cookies are a tradition, why not start a cookie exchange? Gather a group of friends or family and break the task down while still being able to enjoy a wide variety of holiday baked goods. The same goes for holiday meals; enlist the aid of family members to help with the cooking and clean up.
  2. Have a central calendar. Work with all of the caregivers involved in taking care of your aging relatives and write down the dates and times of holiday parties and events. Also plan who will take your parents holiday shopping and when. Note the dates you, if you’re the main caregiver, may need off to tend to strictly personal family obligations.
  3. Streamline your shopping trips and your shopping lists. Is it time to scale back on the number of gifts you purchase? Can you shop online and have the items gift wrapped and shipped? This will save you from having to fight the crowds at the malls. How about drawing names out of a hat and buying a gift for one person rather than the whole crowd? Buy gifts for the entire family, consider movie passes, certificates to theme parks or restaurants. Check the cupboards for items necessary for holiday events and shop early to avoid the crowds.
  4. Dressing for the season. This means you need to take time to pack away the summer clothing and pull out the warm weather attire. Do this before the season is in full swing to make certain the clothes that got packed away last year still fit this year. Try on shoes, boots, jackets and other warm winter attire to see if it is still wearable or if you’ll need to make a shopping excursion.
  5. Spend time at home. Are there holiday obligations that require you to pack up the car and the family and drive for hours to different locations? Can you combine your visits and have everyone meet at a central location? Can you begin a new holiday tradition and have it at your aging relatives’ home rather than having to make them go out into the cold and potentially snowy weather? Imagine the joy on your parents face at having all of the family converge on their home for a holiday meal. Also, the time you spend preparing for the meal is a great time to make memories with them.


Gifts Your Aging Parents Will Appreciate

Holidays and birthdays are sometimes difficult times when trying to decide what to buy for your aging parents. It seems as though they either have everything they need or want and usually simply buy what they want when they want it. There are some items you can purchase for them that will bring a lifetime of memories or are certain to make their lives easier.

Here are a few examples of items you could purchase for your elderly relatives:

  1. Send them on a vacation. If your parents have always dreamed of traveling, gather the funds and send them on a vacation. Arrange their travel and hotel rooms and offer them spending money to take with them so they don’t have to worry about cash.
  2. Home entertainment gift. If your parents aren’t healthy enough and don’t enjoy travel, purchase a home entertainment system for them. If they spend most of their time at home and enjoy watching television purchase new one or a radio or CD player if they enjoy music more than television. Offer to upgrade their television station package and pick up the costs so they have more channels from which to choose.
  3. Upgrade their furniture. Let them watch their new entertainment system in comfort by purchasing comfortable recliner for them or even consider buying a massage or heated chair. If you live in cooler climates, a heated chair will help them keep the chill from their bones and a massaging chair will help work out the kinks and relieve body aches and pains.
  4. Home healthcare upgrades. If your aging parents are having health issues, sign them up for, and pay for a home medical alert system and a medical alert pendant for each of them. These devices are worn by your aging relatives 24-hours a day and in the event of a trip or fall accident or other medical emergency, they can call for help at the push of a button. Paying for a home healthcare aide to make occasional visits to the home to monitor their health can also offer you peace of mind knowing that they’re eating healthy and taking their medications.
  5. The gift of time. More than any item you could purchase for your elderly relatives, the gift of time will be the one that is the most welcomed. Plan to stop by several times a week. Take them on shopping trips. Spend some time together preparing and cooking meals for the week so you can not only spend time together but make certain they are eating well.

As your parents age, you should do what you can to make them comfortable and feel cherished. Remember all that they did and sacrificed to raise you, and cherish the time you have with them now. Solitude and loneliness are two of the worst hardships your loved ones face, relieve those feelings by being there for them.

5 Tips To Help The Elderly Enjoy The Holidays

Holidays are a wonderful time for most of us; we get together with family and friends – some of whom we haven’t seen since the previous year. For the elderly in your family though, the holidays can be stressful, depressing or even confusing, especially if their emotional and physical needs are not taken into account.

 Having older relatives means you need to take their health concerns into account, especially if they are traveling to a family member’s house with you. Here are some tips from the home medical alert system providers at LifeFone to help make your holidays merry and safe:

  1. Prior planning is crucial to a successful holiday visit. If your elderly family members are in an environment that takes them out of their element, you need to plan for downtime where they can slip away from the hustle and bustle of the day and simply relax. Noise and confusion that comes with a large gathering can lead to exhaustion or even irritability in your older relative.
  2. Take time to reminisce. For many holidays are a time of good cheer and looking forward to the new year. When it comes to elderly relatives though, it could be a time of year that causes them to miss their spouses or other relatives who are no longer with you. Spend some time strolling down memory lane with your elderly relative; engage him in conversation about what it was like when they celebrated holidays, etc. Include them in the conversation and even pull out old photo albums to enhance the memories.
  3. Build new memories with your relative. Include them in the festivities if possible – let them help with the cooking or decorating or gift wrapping. If you live in an area that offers holiday activities, pack the family up, grab a camera and make new memories to fill an album.
  4. Rearrange the furniture for ease of movement of your elderly relatives. Just as you’d child proof your home for toddlers, you will want to make your home easy to navigate for your aging relatives. Arrange the furniture in a way that will accommodate walkers or individuals who use a cane. Keep electrical cords out of the way, remove or secure throw rugs, eliminate items that could trip up a relative with balance problems. In the event of an extended out of town visit, make certain you’ve contacted your home medical alert system and make certain your relative is still wearing his or her medical alert pendant in the event of a fall.
  5. Be purposeful in reaching out to your elderly family members. If they are unable or unwilling to travel to meet with the family for a celebration, take some time to have a mini-celebration to their house. Offer to set up a small tree or hang other decorations. Either deliver or cook a small meal at their house. Do what you can to alleviate their loneliness as the holidays are associated with increased depression in individuals of all ages.

 Taking time to include your elderly relatives through the holidays is a great way to help everyone in the family build memories that will last a lifetime and with a bit of prior planning, no one will get lost in the hustle and bustle of the season.