To help seniors stay healthy during the holidays, reduce their stress and avoid the holiday blues, keep the following tips in mind:
1. Make Healthy Choices
From rich meals to tempting and tasty homemade snacks, the holidays are a time for many to indulge in food — or overindulge. Try to plan meals with other events in mind.
For example, if a big dinner is planned for New Year’s Eve, consider serving a lighter lunch of salad or soup. “You don’t want to deny anyone of the food they like to eat at this time of year, but you don’t want anyone to gorge themselves, either,” Fuchs says.
2. Stay Hydrated
Drinking water is one way you can stay healthy during the holidays. “Senior citizens, especially, need to drink plenty of fluids, as not drinking enough water could cause hospitalization,” Fuchs says. To make it easier to stay hydrated, have water easily accessible at home and keep bottled water in a purse or bag when running errands.
3. Follow Dietary Restrictions
Some seniors must follow special diets, such as one that is low in sodium. It can be difficult to adhere to a diet during busy, stressful times, especially if there aren’t any healthy options available. “When people get stressed, they tend to overeat and don’t stick to their diets,” Golden says. To make it easier to follow dietary guidelines, keep healthy options like fresh-cut vegetables and fruit on hand.
4. Drink in Moderation
“Drinking too much can impair functions, and for some senior citizens, drinking alcohol with certain medications can have adverse side effects,” Golden says. Consider offering fun, alcohol-free drinks so everyone can celebrate the holidays.
5. Keep Exercising
In many parts of the country, the holidays are synonymous with cold weather and snow. To stick to an exercise schedule, bundle up and invite your parents for a walk around the block if the sidewalks are dry. If it’s snowing or icy outside, drive to an indoor shopping mall and walk a few laps while window-shopping.
For more information, read our article on Exercise and Fitness for Seniors.
6. Shake Up Traditions
Between cleaning the house and cooking for a crowd, hosting a big holiday meal can be a source of stress. If an older relative traditionally hosts a big holiday meal, consider passing the tradition on to the younger generation of family members. If the relative insists on hosting, Fuchs recommends younger family members volunteer to clean or prepare part of the meal.
7. Decrease Gifts
For many senior citizens, especially those on a fixed income, the holidays can be a financial challenge due to purchasing gifts for many family members. To reduce stress from paying for gifts, consider having a family grab bag, where everyone contributes one gift.
8. Rest After Traveling
For some senior citizens, the holidays are a time to travel long distances to visit family and friends. Whether they travel by car, rail or plane, keep in mind that an older relative might want to rest upon arrival. Golden suggested offering the options of watching television or taking a nap instead of planning a day of shopping and visiting.