Bring Light to the Holidays—How to Avoid a Blue Holiday Season

Many people look forward to the holiday season. This is a time of year that is often associated with holiday traditions, spending time with family friends, eating delicious food, going to holiday parties and enjoying the beautiful winter weather.

However, this can be a hard time of the year for seniors. They may feel nostalgic or lonely or depressed during the holiday months. As the holidays approach, they can begin to become upset about health issues, the loss of loved ones over the past year or their inability to travel to see family this year. The holiday blues can affect anyone, leading to increased feelings of loneliness and depression.BringLightToHolidays

But, there are a few ways to help seniors beat the holiday blues. How can seniors avoid a blue holiday season this year?

  • Listen to holiday music.
    Just listening to holiday music can help to lift your mood. If you’re feeling adventurous, go out caroling around your neighborhood, attend a holiday concert or a community holiday sing-along.
  • Bake holiday treats.
    Is there one cookie or sweet that instantly reminds you of the holiday season? Bake some of your favorite cookies, cakes, breads and treats to get you in mood for the holidays. Baking them can be just as fun as eating them afterwards!
  • Send holiday cards.
    Holiday cards can be a great way for you to stay connected with family and friends that live far away. Go through your address book and send cards to new friends, old friends and all those in between.
  • Get out and see some holiday lights.
    The holidays are the perfect time for a walk or drive around the neighborhood (depending on weather) to see the holiday light displays. Each house looks a little different and it’s always fun to see how the owners chose to decorate each year.
  • Watch a holiday movie.
    This time of year is a great time to watch television. It seems like every channel has some kind of holiday movie on, whether it’s a classic like It’s a Wonderful Life or a new favorite like The Polar Express. Tune in and you’re sure to catch a holiday movie or two each day.
  • Share your favorite holiday memories.
    When you’re spending time with your family or friends, take some time to share your favorite holiday memories from the years passed. This can even be done on the phone, over Skype or through email. Reminiscing about your favorite memories from the holidays is always a good way to make your day a little brighter.

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Holiday Gift Giving for Loved Ones with Alzheimer’s or Dementia

Shopping for holiday gifts for family members with Alzheimer’s can be tricky. You may be unsure about what they enjoy or what they’re capable of doing. When choosing a gift, think about their personality, their hobbies, their abilities and their favorite pastimes.

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A few great gift suggestions for those with Alzheimer’s include:

A family calendar
Give your loved one a personalized calendar for your family. Include pictures of family member—grandchildren, children, nieces, nephews, cousins, anyone who is close with your loved one. In addition to photos, take the time to fill in any special dates like birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and family reunions.

Comfortable clothing
Any clothing that you’re buying for a loved one with Alzheimer’s should be comfortable, easy to put on or take off and machine washable. Consider items like sweatshirts, sweatpants, pajamas, sweaters, slip-on shoes or a warm robe.

Music
Give your family member the gift of music this holiday season. Buy them a CD full of their favorite songs by their favorite singers. Music can help those with Alzheimer’s to remember times from their past marked by specific songs or groups.

Identification bracelets
This gift is especially great if your family member is prone to wandering from the house. Identification bracelets are available from many different providers and help to ensure that your loved one makes it home safely if they leave the house unattended.

Home adaptation equipment
You know your loved one better than anyone else. If they have problems in the bathroom, think about buying bathtub safety bars or non-slip bathmats. For those that get up in the middle of the night, consider motion detected nightlights. There are many home adaptation options, so it can be relatively easy to find something to fit your senior’s needs.

Entertainment
DVDs of movies, musicals or plays can be a great gift. Make a list of their favorites and pick them up as they’re available. You can also purchase tickets for a movie, play, sporting event or a fun day trip with friends and family.

Have you ever given a gift to a loved one with Alzheimer’s that has been a hit? We’d love to hear about it!

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How to Reduce Your Stress Over the Holiday Season

We all look forward to Christmas, right?  It is a day of relaxing, possibly watching the annual Christmas parade and/or football, eating too much yummy food, being thankful for all that we have and being surrounded by family and friends.

Well, that’s how it’s supposed to be in a perfect world. But, we all know that holidays aren’t
perfect and neither are our families. Unfortunately, there can be a lot stress that comes with the holidays too.  For one, traveling (whether it’s by car or plane) can be taxing on one’s patience, especially if there are kids involved.  And, as much as we all love
our families, they can get on your nerves…parents included.

So, here’s some advice on how to reduce your stress about your parents or in-laws as well as other family members coming over to your house for Christmas.

#1. Don’t Do It All Yourself!

Christmas should be an enjoyable occasion for all including the host/hostess.  If you have set the precedent that you will do it all then you are setting yourself up for stress.  My suggestion is to approach Christmas as a collaborative effort.  Everyone is assigned to bring something.  There are going to be some family or friends who aren’t great in the kitchen, but that’s okay.  Assign them to something easy such as the vanilla ice cream and Cool Whip for the pies.  If this approach is new for your family, it may come as a bit of surprise when you bring it up.  But over time, your loved ones will (hopefully)
understand how and why having everyone pitch in makes for a day to truly be
thankful about.

#2.  Take a Deep Breath

So, Christmas morning has arrived, as will your guests in just a few short hours.  There’s so much to do!  The last thing you need is for your mom to analyze how you prepared the bird or set the table, or for your mother-in-law to ask why you didn’t fix sweet potatoes.
They always have sweet potatoes at Christmas.  So, when these types of comments come rolling your way, my best advice is to take a deep breath and count to 10 (or 20
whichever it takes to get you past the “feedback” with grace).

#3.  Love Your Family For Who They Are…Flaws and All

Going along with #2, we also need to remember that with the holidays comes heightened sensitivity to criticism, especially when it comes from those closest to us.  We have known our loved ones for a long time, and we also know how to push each other’s buttons. At Christmas, we need to remember that we should love each other, for which we are, not who we want others to be.  None of us are perfect, and we won’t and don’t react exactly the way others think we should.  You will find your stress level greatly reduced
if you go into the holidays remembering this.

Happy (stress-free) Christmas to you and your family from the FirstLight HomeCare Family!!

Family volunteering – the best gift of all

This weekend, many families will have the rare opportunity to gather together to celebrate the holidays and wrap-up another great year. The challenge is finding activities that the whole family can enjoy. While you are looking for ways to spend time together, including activities kids and seniors alike will be able to participate in, consider volunteering a little of your time to a less fortunate family or local community organization.

No matter where you will be spending your holiday, there are many ways to volunteer. What better gift during the holiday season for someone less fortunate then a little of your time and holiday cheer? Here are some ideas that your whole family can participate in:

• Adopt a family. Many individuals are either unable to visit family members or have no one to spend the holidays with. Local churches and schools offer programs that allow families to support these people. Your help could provide them with a meal, gifts or even holiday decorations to brighten their season. Your kids might enjoy picking out gifts for a family with young children while your senior family members might find joy in preparing a meal.

• Collect children’s supplies for local hospitals and children’s centers. This could include school supplies, coloring books, craft ideas or toys. Picking out these items would be fun for the entire family and you know after dropping them off that many children will find joy in even the smallest donation.

• Spread some cheer in your own neighborhood! You never know how many of your closest neighbors may need assistance or even a thoughtful gesture around the holidays. Consider making some holiday cookies for the people on your street or delivering handmade holiday cards.

There are many ways to volunteer with your family this weekend. Whether it is visiting a local shelter or community center and finding out ways to help a neighbor in need, even the smallest donations of time or goods can brighten someone’s day and share the holiday spirit with your family. For more ways to help out in your community this weekend, visit http://www.wahm.com/articles/5-community-service-ideas-for-your-family-during-the-holidays.html.

Happy holidays!

Gift certificates for caregiving services? Get ‘em here!

Anyone who’s experienced first-hand the rewards and challenges of caring for an elderly loved one can attest to how stressful it can be, especially if you can’t take time off for yourself.  This week we launched FirstLight HomeCare Instant Gift Certificate – an online program that allows you to purchase gift certificates for our professional caregiving services through a secure website. With the holidays around the corner, this is a great gift for anyone looking for respite care, or people who want to test out our services.

Call or visit your nearest location today to find out details.