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Q: How can I make holidays easier for older loved ones?

Posted November 20, 2013 in Advice Column, Ankeny

A: For most of us, the holidays are a wonderful time to share the joys of family life and friendship. But for many older adults the holidays can be highly stressful, confusing or even depressing if their mental, physical and emotional needs are not taken into account.

Holidays provoke memories, which can be especially powerful in the later years of life. Many older people whose memories are impaired may have difficulty remembering recent events, but they are often able to share stories and observations from the past. These shared memories are important for the young as well as the older to enjoy hearing about how it was when your parents were your age. We suggest using picture albums, family videos and music, even theme songs from old radio or TV programs, to help stimulate memories and encourage older seniors to share their stories and experiences. All of these events may be fun and very exciting for the senior, but it also might be very tiring and over stimulating. Planning ahead for the time when Mom or Dad does need a quite place to relax or unwind themselves from the stressful surroundings. Older family members with special needs can get lost in the shuffle and chaos of happy family gatherings. So, with all the hustle and bustle of the season, just remember to be sensitive and loving. And plan ahead.

Information provided by Chelsea Spear, At-Home Care Company, 1513 N. Ankeny Blvd., Suite 4, Ankeny, 515-963-4410.

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