It’s Thanksgiving! Millions of families are preparing the big meal. Everything from stuffing, gravy, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce and of course the turkey!
If you have an aging loved one, who is no longer independent, lucid or physically capable as they have been in the past, Thanksgiving Day could be a little more stressful this year.
Holiday gatherings tend to change our daily routines. That change can be tiring for your elder loved one. Make sure he or she has a little extra help. You may want to arrange to have a caregiver assist with getting ready in the morning, or you may want to have them assist with settling back in later in the evening.
When hosting a family gathering, it is always good to remove any hazards that could lead to trips and falls. Walkers or canes could make getting up and down from the dinner table very difficult. It may be best to have your loved one sit at the end of the table if possible.
Seniors do not metabolize food in the same way that they once did. Sometimes our loved ones have trouble chewing due to dental health or chewing strength. Their taste buds might not be as sensitive to flavors as in years past. Or maybe your loved one has a different dietary habit or need.
- Use less salt while cooking. Instead, salt your plate at the table, or try out other spices to use instead.
- Make food that is easy to chew, swallow, and gentle on those with dentures. You may even consider helping to cut their food into more manageable pieces.
- Use recipes that are rich with nutrition.
- Ask your loved one what they enjoy eating these days. Ask them if there is anything they no longer like to eat.
Gratitude can have a positive impact on your health. Sometimes it can be challenging, but it is important to find things to be grateful for and people to be grateful towards. Some studies have shown that gratitude can relieve depression, lower blood pressure, improve immune function and helps to facilitate more effective sleep. For some seniors this time of year can be a reminder of the many things they miss. This feeling could grow more intense as the holiday season continues. It is critical for everyone to keep watch for signs of “holiday blues”. This would include irritability, sadness, anxiety, loss of interest in regular activities, lack of attention to hygiene and personal care. Encourage them to talk about how they are feeling.
Finally, get up and moving! Exercise and fresh air are good for the body and the soul! Plan a walk after dinner, especially if the weather is agreeable. Sunlight and fresh air can work magic on a sour outlook.
No matter what your plans are this Thanksgiving, we hope you have a wonderful time spent with family and friends.