For many families, the holiday season marks one of the only times of year that all members can gather together to celebrate and enjoy each other's company. The portrait before and after this joyous time, however, is often far less picturesque for seniors living alone or far away from relatives.
As the aging population continues to grow - the U.S. Census Bureau projects over 88 million people age 65 and older in the U.S. by 2050 - memory loss and dementia in seniors are posing a major public health burden and it's often difficult for relatives to monitor that aging family members are getting the level of stimulation and socialization they want and need. But there's hope: According to a recent study by the Harvard School of Public Health, researchers have found evidence that seniors in the United States with active social lives may have slower rates of memory decline and lower mortality rates.
Given these findings, Comfort Keepers®, in-home care services providers located nationwide, has provided the following tips for family members to address with their aging loved ones this holiday season to ensure a happy and healthy time is had by all.
- Link Up with Like Minds: Senior groups plan activities like exercise, meals, games and trips for seniors wanting to get out of the house and expand their circle of friends. Look into these groups with your loved ones and find one what best fits their interests.
- Pick Up a Pen: Sending holiday cards is a wonderful way to spark a new kind of relationship between family members. Once these lines of communication have been opened, seniors will be more inclined to keep up with the correspondence long after the holiday season ends.
- Get in the Game: Brainteasers, memory games and mathematical puzzles are not only fun but can employ areas of the brain that aren't regularly stimulated. Try a few with your loved one while you are in town and leave them with a few books or games that they can continue using after you leave.
- Make a List and Check it Twice: Send your loved one a list of possible gift ideas for other family members and friends and review their purchases upon your arrival while helping them with wrapping. If you have the luxury of arriving prior to the holiday, accompany your loved one on a shopping excursion to select the perfect presents.
- Hire a Helping Hand: If you are still concerned about your loved one when the holiday season comes to a close, discuss the possibility of hiring an in-home companion. Not only will this person be able to help with basic chores and activities but the companion will be able to provide much-needed social interaction for your loved one on a daily, weekly or live-in basis.