The wintertime is full of traditions and shared holiday spirit. During this seasonal change, celebrations and traveling can throw off typical schedules, which has an effect on our senior population. It is also important to monitor over indulging — food, drinking, movement.
“The holidays can be the best time of year,” said Kristina Lotz, activities director. “It can also be a very busy time of year. Be mindful of your senior loved one’s physical needs during festive activities.”
Rich meals and delicious snacks can be tempting during the holidays. Planning ahead for cooking can help make sure you keep dietary restrictions on track and on time. It may be fine to have your senior indulge in the delights of this time of year; however, remember, the type of food, amount and serving time has an effect on senior health. Make sure a balanced meal will be available per your senior’s dietary needs, along with the additional good tastes you are preparing. Offering to serve the food onto the senior’s plate can help with portion control. A routine schedule supports optimum health, but if the holiday meal is a time challenge, serve a lighter, healthy meal at an earlier time and then offer more of a tasting size at holiday meal time.
Pay attention to staying hydrated. Making sure your senior is drinking plenty of water is so very important, and is a constant senior challenge, especially while running errands, traveling or at celebrations. Nonalcoholic, fun drinks can be created for seniors to enjoy, respecting dietary restrictions. Adding fruit, a vegetable or a scoop of sherbet to a beverage can be a delicious and visually pleasing treat. It has been said, “We eat with our eyes.”
Take breaks and rest after traveling. Whether you and your senior loved one are traveling by plane, train or car, make sure to have your senior periodically stand and walk if able.
“Moving every two hours will help to minimize the threat of blood clots forming,” said Bonnie Jensen, nurse director. “After travel, have some down time. A short nap or relaxing by the fire can help revive energy, along with food and water.”
Exercising and staying active are important schedule components. Cold weather and snow can affect your senior loved one’s activity. If sidewalks are dry and the weather is warmer, go for a light walk and get fresh air. This type of activity can be great for the muscles and blood flow. If the weather does not permit outdoor activity, going to an indoor mall and window shopping allows movement without the coldness. Remember, seniors are more susceptible to the harsh effects of temperature changes.
“The holidays are a time for fun with family and friends,” said Stephen Heard, owner. “Enjoying the holidays, annual traditions and food should be shared by all. It is important to stay attentive to how your senior loved one is feeling. Plan ahead for eating, hydrating, resting and exercising. Happy and safe holidays to all!”