It's a common belief that old people are set in their ways. However, there's a big difference between being unwilling to try new things, and being comfortable in a routine. Something that often gets overlooked, especially by younger family members, is that a routine is good for seniors. It lets them cope with stress, keeps them in a familiar groove, and lets them muster their resources to handle with life's ever-increasing challenges. Here are some tips to maintaining a routine during the holidays.
Why Avoid Disrupting a Routine
If you have a routine, you've developed it for a reason. You get up at a certain time, and go to bed at a certain time, because it works for you. You eat certain foods, take certain medications, and perform certain activities (exercise, read the paper, watch your favorite show), because it's good for your mind, your body, or both.
Disrupting that routine isn't good for anyone. Disrupting that routine for seniors, who have typically constructed that routine for very specific reasons, can be disastrous. While lots of us see the holidays as a time to throw aside our routines, and to enjoy life without those usual constraints and limitations, that isn't something seniors can do a lot of the time. It's distressing, and it can be bad for their health both mentally and physically.
How To Maintain Their Routine
Talk Your Senior
Talk to your senior repeatedly about the holidays and the special events that will take place. Your senior will appreciate that you are keeping them in the loop about what the family will be doing. Give your senior the choice to attend events or to stay home. It may be better for them to stick to their routine and sit out of a few activities.
Talk to Family and Friends
If it has been a long time, a letter or email can help prepare the family for the changes in your senior. Without a head’s up they could be in for an unpleasant surprise. In their shock, they might even question how well your senior is being taken care of. Warning the out-of-town relatives about any changes in your senior in writing—a letter or email—gives them a chance to let the changes sink in. And if they get the news in writing, they can refer to it when they call or write back about the changes
Make Wise Choices
Whether it’s because of Alzheimer's, dementia or simply old age, traditions need adjusting from time to time. It would be impossible to maintain your senior's daily routine without any changes on a holiday like Thanksgiving or Hanukkah. But likewise, it would likely be impossible to maintain family traditions on those holidays without accommodating your senior's routine. How much give and take either side does will be up to the individual family.
Sometimes a simple change can help your senior cope with the excitement of the holiday. Moving the traditional holiday meal from evening to a morning often helps your senior tolerate the unusual excitement. If there are songs or traditions that your senior remembers suggest ahead of time that those things be incorporated into the celebration.
At Caring Senior Service we are always ready to help seniors and their families by providing professional advice and services. As you consider ways to give support to your aging parents or relatives, consider including us in your plans. Contact the care team near you today!