Hosting Elderly Relatives: Thanksgiving Planning Tips

family celebrating christmas

Family gatherings and reunions serve as an excellent way to reunite the family. Planning gatherings such as these can be very stressful, especially if you have family members who are elderly you must attend to, as well as cooking, contacting everyone and rounding up the kids.

Thanksgiving is that time of year when many relatives get together to spend time with each other and celebrate those things for which they are thankful! Many families will be hosting elderly kin. So, it’s significant to be aware that your aging relatives have specific needs to consider when you're planning your Thanksgiving activities and meals.

The following are some Thanksgiving planning tips for hosting your elderly relatives:

Holiday Meal Pointers

There are two main things to remember when planning Thanksgiving dinner and they are:

·         The food needs to be easily digested. Make a variety of side dishes which can be chewed and swallowed easily. Reduce the salt intake to lower the risk of raising blood pressure, and replace spicy with savory seasonings.

·         Keep the meals healthy, because older adults sometimes have decreased appetites, so they require plenty of nutrition at meal time. If possible, prepare a couple of special dishes that are enjoyed by your aging relative.

Planning the Setting

Elderly people often have many particular needs, especially if they are wheelchair-bound due to a condition that reduces their mobility. Make sure you have plenty of space so they can maneuver at the table and around your house.

That might mean having enough space to fit their wheelchair or walker. You could also provide them with their own chair, which will be comfortable and has sufficient support.

Also, a good idea is to set the room temperature slightly higher than you would typically have it since the elderly feel the cold easier. Clear the pathway to the bathroom so they can get there easily, and it would be a good idea to have some spare towels and extra clothing in case they have bladder control issues and have an accident.

Mental/Emotional Considerations

Thanksgiving often is tough both mentally and emotionally for seniors. Loneliness and depression are genuine concerns, even though your aging relative is taking part in the festivities of the holiday. Try to find ways to help engage them so they can enjoy joining in with all the activities and celebrations.

Play music you know they like, spend time talking with just them and include simple games they can enjoy with the children — all good ways to involve them. Sadly, this is often also one of the more likely seasons when you have an opportunity to take notice of symptoms of certain illnesses, like dementia.

Addressing Change

If you notice any habitual changes in your elderly relative, choose a quiet period over the holiday to talk to them one-on-one. When issues with health require a lifestyle change, many seniors who find themselves in such a situation might start the conversation with their families. If your aging loved one does not talk about the issue, initiate the conversation yourself, making sure to keep the focus on one thing at a time to avoid confusion.

elderly couple

 

The most appropriate time to begin the dialogue is soon after noticing the initial signs of a problem. Whether the issue is trouble driving in the dark, forgetfulness or another health matter, start talking straight away.

Due to the sensitivity of the subject matter, these can be difficult conversations with parents. It takes patience, understanding and honesty to engage your parent successfully in talking about what you feel is best for them as they enter their twilight years.

Although it can be stressful and awkward, it is important. And it should be discussed sooner rather than later, before your loved one is possibly incapable of conveying his or her exact wishes.

Senior Sleeping Arrangements

Elderly relatives are more inclined to experience health issues which inhibit the ability to have a good night’s rest.

senior woman sleeping bedroom

Considering the sleeping arrangements of your elderly visitor/s is significant. The holidays might create havoc with your loved one's normal schedule, making it harder for them to have a good night's sleep, so it is important to address certain senior sleep problems.

If this is the case and your elderly relative is staying with you, make sure they are aware of where you are sleeping, so that they know you are nearby to help them or answer any questions which may arise.

Even the slightest modifications can assist an elderly loved one be more comfortable and able to not only take part in but enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday. The more you do to avert potential problems from occurring, the more enjoyable and peaceful your Thanksgiving will be for all who are involved.

Stacey Warren