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Holiday Elder Care - Be an Elder Elf
Sunday, November 12, 2017 by Cindy Sproles

The holidays have arrived. Christmas trees, decorations, parties, a flurry of friends and family, keep us filled with joy and fun. However, the fun does not always resonate with our seniors. There are a number of things that “put a damper” on such a festive season. It’s important to become sensitive to those things that may trigger hardship or sadness for our elders.

Despite the stumbling blocks the holidays bring, I challenge you to put on an elf hat and become an “Elder” Elf.

What does an Elder Elf do? It’s simple. Make visits, calls, visit nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Make yourself available to those seniors who may be lonely or forgotten for the holidays.

Be aware of the following things and take action:

Loneliness is a major source of depression – The holidays spur times of deep reflection for everyone. Fond memories of loved ones past swirl in our minds as  the Christmas decorations go up. For aging parents, the loss of a spouse or even children, surface and the longing for times past, rise. Be mindful of those elders who have lost their spouse. Invite them to spend time with you, call, visit, include them in your holiday activities.

Take note of the things that cause stress – For some aging parents, the festive hoopla is confusing, i.e. Alzheimer’s patients, those with dementia. Festivities sometimes cause confusion and stress. Simply be mindful of those needs and adjust visits and interaction to fit their needs.

Give seniors permission to NOT purchase Christmas gifts – The truth is, many seniors will overspend their already slim budget, in order to purchase gifts for grandchildren and great grandchildren. Those gifts can sometimes number in the 50’s depending on the number of children. Be sensitive to the small retirement budget of elder parents and give them permission to stop the Christmas spending. Initiate a “name drawing” or a dirty Santa Christmas where only one gift is purchased rather than buying for every family member. It’s a hard habit to break, but one that will relieve enormous stress from your aging parents.

Note holiday safety – Scams are on the rise, opportunity for robberies and even identity theft – Take the necessary precautions to firm up security for your aging parents. Be sure deadbolts are in place, windows and doors are locked. Encourage seniors to never give their social security or bank information to anyone over the phone. Place charge cards and debit cards in a secure location. Keep an eye on bills, and if your aging parent has difficulty getting to the street for their mail, check with the Postal Service about adding a mailbox at the door of a parent’s resident. Safety is always first.

If your aging parents have since passed, adopt a senior at a nursing home or hospital. Look in your church at seniors who may be alone and make them part of your Christmas season. Assisted living and nursing home facilities maintain a list of those who have no family. Make Christmas stockings by gathering items such as toothpaste, skid-free socks, lap blankets, short devotional books, fragrance free sensitive skin lotions, close-heeled house shoes, soft cookies to deliver to nursing homes. Something so small can make such a wonderful difference.

This Christmas, be an Elder Elf. It’s our job to care for our aging parents and friends. Put on the elf ears and become a senior’s special elf.

 

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Comments

Roberta Sarver From Barnett, MO At 11/20/2017 3:15:29 AM

Cindy, Thanks so much for your advice about being an elder elf. We all need reminded so that we don't get too busy to include those who get overlooked.

Sandra Lovelace From South Carolina At 11/14/2017 7:13:40 AM

Giving permission to NOT buy gifts is a grace-filled idea. Thanks for sharing it. I hope many will put it into practice. Merry Christmas!

Reply by: Cindy Sproles

Glad you liked the idea. We put to much stock in gifts and its so expensive for our elderly.

Elaine Cooper From Johnston, Iowa At 11/13/2017 7:43:48 AM

Cindy, THANK YOU for this lovely idea! My parents are gone as our my husband's. We live near a nursing home so this gives me food for thought and gets my mind to create a few ideas. I think I'll contact the activity director there to see if there are any there without family. I'm certain there must

Reply by: Cindy Sproles

Good. My mom is in assisted living and though she is in excellent health (mind and body - and can come and go as she pleases) there are so many there who are not as fortunate. They love it when we come to visit Mom (and we visit her numerous times during the week), but we stop and chat with other residents.

Mountain Breeze Writer


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