Thanksgiving is nearly upon us, and for many families across the United States, that means it's almost time to have a big get-together. Traditionally, Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude, togetherness, and, of course, a feast. And while it's great to indulge a little while celebrating together, it's important for seniors, as well as their families and caregivers, to keep health and well-being in mind, too.
Here are some senior living tips for having a healthy Thanksgiving this year:
1. Cook a healthy meal at home.
Cooking a big Thanksgiving meal can be stressful. You've got to decide on a menu, figure out who's bringing what, and juggle different jobs in the kitchen so all the food is ready at the same time. Sometimes it can feel a lot easier to just buy a pre-made Thanksgiving dinner or take the family out to a restaurant.
Eating out isn't the healthiest option, though, especially if you're celebrating Thanksgiving with a senior who may have special dietary needs. Restaurant food can be very high in salt, sugar, and fat, all of which are unhealthy for people with health problems like diabetes and high blood pressure. Cooking a meal at home involves more work, but it also gives you much more control over what goes into the food.
So how can you prepare a meal at home with healthy senior living in mind? One thing to remember is to make sure the foods you serve are easy to chew and swallow. Cutting hard or chewy foods into small pieces can help with this. In addition, add flavor to dishes with savory herbs and only a little salt, and make healthy swaps like serving steamed vegetables instead of heavy vegetable casseroles.
If you are a home caregiver, ensure that the senior in your care won't be alone on Thanksgiving. If their family lives far away and won't be able to come see them, see if you can arrange for them to visit via a phone call or Skype session. Another idea is to see if a senior living center near you is hosting a Thanksgiving dinner for senior community members (you may need to call the senior living center to make a reservation). Of course, if you can spend some time with the senior you in your care on Thanksgiving, that is beneficial, too.
2. Travel safely.
Traveling around Thanksgiving can be a little daunting. Highways and airports are busy, and in some areas, the roads can even develop an occasional slick of ice, making driving dangerous. Make sure that your senior family member or client will be able to get to and from family gatherings safely. This could mean monitoring the weather for any potentially dangerous conditions, giving the senior a ride if they don't (or shouldn't) drive, or helping them line up a taxi ahead of time.
3. Be mindful that the holiday might trigger strong emotions.
The holidays are a time of joy, but for many people, they're also a time of sadness. This is especially true for seniors who have lost loved ones over the years. It can be difficult to get through a big Thanksgiving celebration while feeling overwhelmed with memories of friends and loved ones who are no longer there to celebrate.
The senior in your life might not have any trouble getting through the holiday emotionally, but in case they do, it's important to be sensitive to how they're feeling. If they seem a bit sad or withdrawn, make a point to spend some extra time with them, and try to schedule some extra visits or phone calls in the time leading up to the holidays. Don't try to force them to feel cheerful, but do point out all the good things there are to be thankful for this year, such as visiting with their grandkids and other loved ones.
4. Keep events and celebrations short and manageable.
Your senior family member or client might not be as energetic as the younger people at holiday get-togethers and celebrations. Try to keep an eye on their energy levels, and if they seem to be getting worn out, offer them a quiet place they can go and recharge. This may be especially necessary for seniors who have dementia or cognitive issues.
If you're concerned that a family member might not have the stamina to be present for the duration of a get-together, consider hiring a home caregiver. That way, you can be assured that your senior loved one will be well cared for during the holiday season and beyond.
Home Caregiving and Senior Living
Thanksgiving can be a wonderful occasion for families and friends to celebrate together. Home care services offer a way to support healthy senior living in all areas of a senior’s life. This is not only true for holidays like Thanksgiving, but for day to day activities as well.
If you or a senior loved one is considering home care services, please contact us at Alegre Home Care. Our home caregivers receive the best training in California and will create customized care plans based on each individual’s needs. Contact us today at one of our many locations!