Holiday Caregiver Tips for Seniors and Children
As a season of celebrations is upon us, many holiday caregivers wonder how to involve your loved one in holiday preparations? All of us want to feel useful, and we certainly enjoy some level of creativity. It keeps our imaginations active, and may have beneficial effects on our cognition. Depending on your senior’s level of functioning, many activities will make them feel helpful.
Baking is a great example of an activity that can be fun, and can involve older adults and children. Handling the oven may require a holiday caregiver’s supervision. A holiday favorite is the sugar cookie – it is simple, and can be decorated according to the occasion.
- Holiday Sugar Cookies: Pre-heat the oven to 375o. In a small bowl, stir together 2 ¾ cups of flour, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and ½ teaspoon of baking power. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together 1 cup of butter (softened) and 1 ½ cups of white sugar. For a healthier, diabetic-friendly option, use sucralose for baking in the place of white sugar. Beat in 1 egg, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the cookies from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Optional: use colorful sugar, sprinkles or icing to create designs and shapes that complement the holiday.
Decorating is another activity that may bring joy to all. Simple DIY projects can bring families closer, and add a personal touch to the season. Several web sites can give you crafty ideas. Simply google “simple crafts for the holidays” for a list of easy and fun projects. For example, a simple wreath is a versatile piece of décor. For this task, the use of scissor and paints may require a holiday caregiver’s supervision.
- Holiday wreath: You can find all of the following supplies at your local department store or hobby shop. Using a wreath form and some bright-white cloth, cut or tear the cloth into strips (the strips can be uniform or different sizes). Tie them unto the wreath form. Make sure to cover the entire form, and fluff the material for a full look. The wreath can be embellished according to the occasion. Use glitter black plastic spiders for Halloween, and replace with colorful ornaments for the winter holidays. Finish the project by decorating the wreath hook with paint pens or a ribbon.
While holiday caregivers ponder how to include your senior in the celebrations, think of their traditions. How did they celebrate the holidays? What tokens held meaning for them? How can they find some familiarity during family time? For some, that may mean wrapping gifts, or playing the gift-giver during gatherings. Others find meaning in holiday ornaments or comfort foods.
How safe is your home for the elderly and small children? Here are a few, simple suggestions that can ensure a safe, happy season for all ages:
- Make strict rules about smoking, as this might prevent you from falling asleep with a lit cigarette. Although, we recommend cutting out smoking altogether.
- As we age, the occurrences of light-headedness, dizziness, or vertigo, might increase. Having a rule about remaining off of ladders and chairs is smart, and we recommend caution with high-heeled shoes.
- Handrails should all be secured and monitored for stability. In extreme cases, a chair lift might need to be installed.
- Nail down floor rugs, and make sure there’s nothing loose to trip you.
- Clean up any clutter that blocks or obstructs your path.
- Do not use slippery wax on hardwood or linoleum floors.
- Remove excess telephone or electric wiring in walkways, and prevent dangerous accidents.
Kitchens and bathrooms are where many household accidents occur. Both of these rooms present opportunities to make the household safer. Guard yourself and any youth or senior against slips and falls by following these rules:
- Leave dimmers or bright nightlights on in both of these areas. This may prevent accidents during the night.
- In the bathroom, slipping in the tub is very common. Create a non-slip bottom in the tub by lining it with a rubber bath mat.
- In the kitchen, store heavy items at waist level so nothing can fall from cabinets to injure the young, middle-ages, or the elderly.
- Foods in the refrigerator should be rotated regularly, so that expired foods are never consumed.
- One of the most important safety measures is to keep a close eye on the medications that are available. Not only will the administering of the pills need to be monitored carefully, but also make routine disposals of old and used medicine bottles. Store medicines out of the reach of infants, toddlers and youth, but low enough that you or an elderly person can access them easily.
Additional holiday caregiver suggestions to keep your holidays full of joy and laughter:
- When dealing with the young and the elderly, plan on rest. Set aside time for naps, and have a quiet place where someone may retreat to catch a catnap.
- Accidents are bound to happen. Whether it be a broken dish, or a bout of incontinence, give grace to the person. Keep the incident as low-key as possible, and empower the senior or youngster to help clean up the situation (as much as possible).
- Finally, and most importantly, ask for help! If you have siblings, parents, spouses/partners, use them when scheduling activities. Offer project suggestions, and encourage them to create their own. Take shifts if a loved-one needs around-the-clock care. Ask relatives and friends to make extra portions when cooking, so you do not have to shoulder all of the responsibility. Much like our professional lives, caregiving requires delegation!
We, at Personal Care Inc., wish you and yours a very bright holiday season! No matter what traditions are near and dear to your family, it is important for all of us to feel included and welcome. PCI genuinely hopes that these suggestions will make a difference during this time of festivities!