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Combating Senior Loneliness During the Holidays

Monday , November 16 , 2020

Combating Senior Loneliness During the Holidays

The holidays are going to look different this year. 

For you or me, that might mean eating Christmas dinner with just our immediate family rather than having a large gathering. 

It might mean losing their one opportunity to see family for the entire year for a senior citizen who lives alone. 

With Covid-19 on the rise once again, older adults are increasingly being forced to spend time alone. Understandably, families are concerned about their older loved ones’ mental and emotional health. 

If you find yourself in this boat, keep reading for a few ways you can help your elderly family and friends feel your love from afar.

Tips for Helping a Senior Deal with Holiday Loneliness 

Growing older can mean children are growing up and moving away, losing friends, chronic illness, hearing loss, and more. 

Because of this, seniors often experience loneliness regularly. This year, the holiday season, in particular, will be much more difficult for many people. 

Here are a few things you can do to help brighten their days: 

  • Practice active listening. Try to fully listen when your loved one wants to talk, even if the topic is negative. An honest conversation may help seniors work through whatever is bothering them and will likely reveal other ways in which you can help. 
  • Send a card. There’s something to be said for a handwritten card or note. Ask family members and friends to send your older loved one a holiday greeting (bonus points for a family photograph or child’s drawing!).
  •  Plan safe activities. If your senior lives in a long-term care facility, check with the activities director to see what they have planned for the residents. Sign your loved one up for any classes or events they may enjoy and encourage them to get to know others in their community.
  • Tap into local resources. Check with your loved one’s religious organization to see if they can offer social or spiritual support. Many organizations provide one-on-one counseling to those who are having difficulties in life, and you may be able to arrange for an online or telephone visit.
  • Help them decorate. Many seniors enjoy reflecting on past holidays as they unpack and arrange seasonal decorations. Help them add festive touches to their home or room with small adornments such as garland, wreaths, or battery-operated candles. Be sure to ask them about the history behind unique pieces and listen to the stories!
  • Make traditional baked goods. Is there a special holiday recipe that’s been passed down in your family from generation to generation? Whip up a batch of those cookies or that bread and hand-deliver it to your older loved one to enjoy on their own.
  • Try new hobbies. Try learning about what your older loved one likes to do to relax or as a hobby. If they don’t already have a hobby, ask if there’s one they’d like to try. Even seemingly solitary hobbies, like knitting or crossword puzzles, often lead to social conversations and increased interaction with others.

Final Thoughts

Remember that many families face tough times this year, and holiday celebrations are likely to look very different. Do what you can to help your older loved one feel involved without stressing yourself. If you put too much on your plate, neither you nor your loved one will likely enjoy the season. 

If you’ve taken steps to address loneliness but feel that your older loved one still needs companionship, consider a home health aide. Our aides can help out by planning and scheduling activities, reading aloud, renting and watching movies, or simply sitting down for a chat. Reach out today to learn more: (908) 927-0500.

Posted in: Aging

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Gathering Safely for the Holidays

Monday , November 2 , 2020

Gathering Safely for the Holidays

The holiday season is upon us! With Thanksgiving and a slew of other holidays right around the corner, you may be wondering, “How can I safely visit my family and friends?”

Experts say think small. During the worst pandemic in a century, things will look a bit different this year.

So how do you plan a special celebration during such a challenging time? Keep reading to learn more:

Plan for smaller holiday gatherings 

The best advice experts can offer at this time is stay at home whenever possible. Plan for a family Zoom call, an online game night, or even a holiday drive-by in your car.

But if you absolutely must see your loved ones in person, keep it small.

The CDC tips for a safe holiday gathering include:

  • Limit the number of attendees as much as possible to allow people from different households to remain at least 6 feet apart at all times. Guests should avoid direct contact, including handshakes and hugs, with others not from their household.
  • Avoid holding gatherings in crowded, poorly ventilated spaces with persons who are not in your household.
  • Increase ventilation by opening windows and doors to the extent that is safe and feasible based on the weather, or by placing central air and heating on continuous circulation.
  • Require guests to wear masks. At gatherings that include persons of different households, everyone should always wear a mask that covers both the mouth and nose, except when eating or drinking.
  • Plan ahead and ask guests to avoid contact with people outside of their households for 14 days before the gathering.

Large gatherings make it too difficult to enforce rules and maintain social distancing. Unless you want your holiday party to become the next super spreader event, keep it to a minimum!

Opt Outside

Even better? If you want to meet up with a group of people who don’t live in your household, gather outside!

It may be cold out in the coming weeks, but that’s nothing that can’t be overcome. Dress in layers, add a hat and gloves, and bring a blanket to cover your lap. You can even gather around an outdoor fireplace or patio heater, as long as you maintain social distancing and wear masks.

If weather forces you into a tent or pop-up shelter, consider keeping one side open for ventilation.

To keep food as safe as possible, encourage guests to “B.Y.O.M” (bring your own meat) and cook it over the grill or fire.

Protect Yourself and Others

No matter how you gather, remember: Safety first. The holidays are not the time to start ignoring the safety protocol you’ve observed for the rest of the year.

Remind guests to:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Wear a mask and maintain a six-foot distance from people outside your household
  • Avoid handshakes, hugs, and even elbow bumps
  • Stay home if you are sick

Keep in mind that you are not obligated to gather with anyone. If you receive any invitations that make you even the tiniest bit uncomfortable, exercise your right to say “no.”

Who Should Avoid Gatherings? 

According to the CDC, the following people should avoid all gatherings this holiday season. Anyone who:

  • Has or was exposed to Covid-19
  • Has been diagnosed with Covid-19 and has not met the criteria for when it is safe to be around others
  • Has symptoms associated with Covid-19
  • Is waiting for Covid-19 test results
  • Is at increased risk of severe illness from Covid-19

Final Thoughts 

If you are an older adult or person whose medical conditions leave you at greater risk of severe infection, you should avoid ALL in-person gatherings.

If you are celebrating with friends and loved ones, help drive infection rates down! Wear a mask, wash hands, practice social distancing, and avoid large groups.

Have a safe and healthy holiday season!

Posted in: Health

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60 Fun Activities for Dementia Patients and Their Caregivers

Monday , October 12 , 2020

60 Fun Activities for Dementia Patients and Their Caregivers

Being a family caregiver is a highly rewarding experience, but it can be challenging at times. Caregivers of dementia patients, especially, can feel like they work and work and work and don’t make a difference.

That doesn’t have to be the case.

Part of being a great caregiver is learning about activities that will help engage someone who has been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s, regardless of the level of the disease. Staying active and engaged is beneficial for both physical and cognitive health and can help ease anxious or aggressive behaviors. On top of that, activities done together can help form a bond of trust and security between the caregiver and their loved one.

Of course, many caregivers are thrown into the role by chance and have no formal training or education.

If you’re like the millions of other adults unexpectedly caring for an older friend or family member, you likely have no idea which activities are appropriate for a dementia patient and which are not.

To help keep you and your loved one busy and engaged, we’ve rounded up a list of 60 meaningful activities you can take part in together. Keep reading to learn more:

 

Planning Dementia Friendly Activities 

Where is a good place to begin when planning activities for a loved one with dementia? A good rule is to meet them where they are. Some good guidelines include:

  • Avoid pointing out what they can no longer do. Focus on options that compensate for skills they may have lost. For example, if your loved one can no longer read, try browsing together for audio books that they might enjoy. Use a computer or phone?
  • Keep track of skills and abilities. Keeping track of the skills and abilities as they deteriorate is vital. Can your loved one able to go to the grocery store and shop? Can they plan and cook a simple meal?
  • Be aware of physical limitations. Many older adults, not just those with dementia, suffer from changes to hearing, eyesight, flexibility, and more. Some physical limitations may require modifications to activities so they are still suitable.
  • Plan appropriate social events. People with dementia often feel anxious or overwhelmed in large gatherings or an unfamiliar environment. Try to set up gatherings with smaller groups or in a 1-to-1 setting to keep things comfortable.
  • Focus on enjoyment not success. What does your loved one find entertaining? Find activities that they naturally enjoy and lose your preconceived notions of how it “should” be done to alleviate stress.

5 Fun Activities for Someone with Dementia 

Keeping in mind that every dementia patient has different preferences and abilities, there are some activities that will likely be enjoyed by all. Some accommodation may be required, but here are some of our favorites:

  • Teach the Caregiver: Ask your loved one to teach you something he/she loves to do and/or an activity he/she has known or done for such a long time that they still remember it. Have them demonstrate a skill he/she can still do through “muscle memory,” such as tell you about what life was like in the past or something he/she is passionate about. Your loved one may need to show you, versus tell you, a story, depending upon their language abilities. Encourage this method of storytelling.
  • Read a Book Together: Read a book to your loved one. Let them pick the topic area. Pick one with emotional and sensory content to help with comprehension. Short chapters and a great plot help, too.
  • Hand Massage: Reduces anxiety, perception of pain and difficult behaviors. Begin by covering your loved one’s hands with a wet, warm washcloth for a minute. Massage using a scented cream or lotion they enjoy. Lavender is a good scent as it is both stimulating and relaxing. Always be gentle – older adults’ skin can bruise easily. Follow this protocol: http://www.ecarediary.com/viewblog.aspx?BlogID=620
  • Sniff the Spices: Select up to five herbs and spices from your loved one’s kitchen and ask, “I want to learn more about these spices. Can you teach me? Let’s smell them together.” Smell them one at a time. Imagine together what kinds of foods they would go with. Ask if they remember using these spices in dishes served during holidays and family gatherings.
  • I Made a Difference: In what way has your loved one made a difference to others such as his/her spouse, children, parents, siblings, friends, community, co-workers? How did they contribute to their field of work? This is an important part of life review and can help self-esteem and life satisfaction. Share the ways you’ve made a difference, too, if this is helpful and acceptable to both of you.

By being aware of your loved one’s interests and capabilities, you can build a list of activities that will keep them engaged and encouraged. For our full list of 60 Meaningful Activities to do With Dementia Patients, please contact us at (908) 927-0500 or email us here.

Posted in: Dementia

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