Creating New Memories

While nursing homes and other long-term care facilities provide for a resident’s basic needs, they are often just that – basic. So when the holiday season comes around, there is an opportunity for churches and members of the community to come alongside families and reach out to nursing home residents. From the first day the holiday season commences in late October to the beginning of the new year several weeks later, any of us can find ourselves coping with loneliness, depression, or a simple case of the ba-humbugs. For those who are more dependent on facility caregivers or infrequent family visits, consider for a moment how the holiday season, especially Christmas, can bring about a sense of emptiness or be an opportunity for them to experience the joy that for some may only be a distant memory of holidays past. (more…)

Nobody Is an Island: Recognizing and Addressing Caregiver Fatigue

The holidays are supposed to be a time for family gatherings, parties, traveling, and opportunities to laugh and relax with the ones you love. For some, though, the holidays have different associations, like stress, anxiety, and isolation.

Caregivers can often feel stressed during the holiday season. While others are enjoying this time of year, caregivers may feel isolated as they focus on the care of a loved one. Caregivers selflessly provide around-the-clock, unpaid care to seniors and people with disabilities. They are tasked with accompanying their loved one to medical appointments, managing their medications, and handling their financial affairs, all while balancing their own obligations. (more…)

Managing Dementia in Hospice

hospiceWhen a family member moves into a hospice situation that is coupled with the heart-wrenching difficulties of dementia, it is a challenge not only for the caregivers but for the family as well. Its one thing to know that hospice is implemented only at the final stages of life, but it can be exhausting and emotionally trying as loved ones try to engage their family member with dementia while being part of the process that seeks to bring them peace and comfort in their final days.

For many, it is still unclear what hospice is. Hospice care is a specialized care that is designed to provide support for families during an advanced illness. Hospice care generally is focused on comfort and quality of life rather than cure because of advancement or degree of illness. The goal of hospice care is to enable the patient to have an alert, pain-free life and to live each day as fully as possible. It is a life-affirming manner of care and views death as a natural process.

Involved in hospice is the concept of palliative care which focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, physical stress, and mental stress of a serious illness. In the case of hospice patients dealing with dementia, this means finding ways to assist them emotionally and intellectually, not just dealing with the physical pain that might require care via medications. (more…)

Are You a Helicopter Child?

The term is generally only applied to parents. To be a ‘helicopter parent” is to be one who is excessively involved in the life of their child; overprotective and hovering, ready to swoop in for the rescue at the first sign of trouble. The term has mostly negative connotations because these parents don’t often give their children a chance to learn how to navigate certain challenges on their own. Some argue that helicopter parenting has led to a generation less apt to see a world beyond themselves—they are defined by their own self-indulgence.

But what does it mean to be a helicopter child? Keeping a close eye on aging parents may become a necessity in many families, but hovering too closely might also cause problems. (more…)

Make the Holidays Meaningful for Elder Friends & Family

turkey 500While the holidays can be filled with stress and be completely overwhelming, people generally have special memories of holidays past whether its the memory of kids opening gifts on Christmas morning or the large family gatherings around a robust turkey at Thanksgiving. Whatever memory it is, as everyone gets older the relationship between parent and child has a tendency to reverse. Elder friends and family, especially around the holidays, need to continue to feel they are a vital part of a family. Take the time to consider how to nurture the elderly during this holiday season and continue to make new memories.

Ways to Include Elders in the Celebration

  • Make plans to decorate with the help of your elder. Play music and offer warm beverages to encourage the festive atmosphere.
  • Make the activities multi-generational as much as possible.
  • Share moments discussing heirloom decorations while placing them on the tree or around the home.
  • Offer to help them write and mail their holiday cards. This can be a great opportunity to share family stories while providing real practical assistance.
  • Look for signs of sadness or a desire for isolation and be prepared to offer alternatives to make your elder friends and family feel relevant.
  • Be the holiday host so that your elder family members can enjoy a celebration without the burden of the work that goes with it. And let them help when they ask–those that desire to be nurturers don’t just shut off that aspect of their character.
  • Offer to shop and wrap gifts they want to present to their friends and family.
  • If your parent or friends live in assisted living or a nursing home, scale down the activities but definitely still do them. Help them to create a home-like atmosphere with some of their very own family treasures.

Reaching out to elder friends and family over the holidays can make a huge difference in how they continue day to day. Make every effort to accommodate their needs and make them feel like a relevant part of your life.