The meaning of birthdays changes significantly as we age, both on a personal level and for those celebrating with us. A child’s birthday is a happy and playful occasion, celebrating the newness of life. For many seniors, birthdays celebrate a life long-lived and can often be mournful even when it’s a happy occasion. Seniors may notice the absence of friends and family members who have passed away and a birthday may even trigger fear if the senior is concerned about nearing the end of their life’s journey.
As home caregivers, it is our job to help our clients live the best lives possible. This includes finding ways to make birthdays a positive experience for seniors. Some seniors may not need much help feeling good about their birthday but others may need some extra attention on that day. Below are helpful home care tips that will help celebrate another year in the cycle of life for the seniors in your care.
Birthday Tip #1: Have a conversation with the seniors in your care. It is easy to make assumptions and part of the challenge of being home caregivers is not letting our own biases and preferences supercede those of our clients. Ask seniors if they enjoy celebrating their birthdays, how they like to celebrate, and if they have any concerns or requests for their birthday this year.
Birthday Tip #2: If possible, have a conversation with the friends and family members of the seniors in your care. There may be things seniors left out when you discussed birthday plans and concerns with them. It is also helpful to let friends and family members know if the seniors in your care have concerns, since they might not be aware.
Birthday Tip #3: Don’t overpromise. You may want to go all out and make a birthday extra special, but this can set a high bar and seniors in your care may feel like they did something wrong if they do not receive the same level of attention on their birthday the next year. Keep your role as a home caregiver simple but thoughtful.
Birthday Tip #4: Set expectations and boundaries. A home caregiver’s role in birthdays is to help facilitate planning and arrangements, not to take on the full responsibility of everything involved. It’s okay to ask for help and to let seniors know what tasks you will and will not do.
Birthday Tip #5: Get a thoughtful gift. If your clients do want to celebrate their birthdays, try to keep your gifts to them thoughtful and simple. An extravagant gift is unnecessary and is another way to create unrealistic expectations for future birthday events. A thoughtful gift goes much further than something that is expensive.
Birthday Tip #6: Check in with your home care agency. If you have new clients, it may not be clear if there are protocols in place for their birthday celebrations. A reputable home care agency will have resources and client files that will contain useful information about client preferences and history.
Birthday Tip #7: Remember dietary restrictions. People often want to “cheat” on their birthday, thinking that a sneaking in a small treat will be okay. Depending on the health conditions of seniors, even a small treat could be fatal, especially for diabetics. Friends and family members may not be aware of certain restrictions, and could accidentally give seniors something that is harmful. Help keep an eye out for these things and remind seniors in your care of potential consequences to their health if they eat something that is harmful to them.
Birthday Tip #8: Be mindful of noise. Seniors who have dementia or sensitive hearing are often frightened by sudden noises. If this is the case, it might be wise to nix balloons and noisy party favors. Remind family and friends of these issues as well and use decorations that won’t startle or frighten seniors.
Birthday Tip #9: Be sensitive to grief. Birthdays for seniors can represent a time of loss. A good home care tip is to be extra mindful of the way seniors may be grieving around the time of their birthdays. It may even be useful to help set up some extra counseling during this time.
Birthday Tip #10: Take pictures and have fun! There may be health concerns, moments of grieving, and other issues that pop up, but ultimately, birthdays for seniors are a positive and joyful experience, especially if seniors are celebrating milestones. Remember to have fun and enjoy the festivities!
Home Care Tips: Work with a Reputable Agency
Both home caregivers and clients alike benefit from working with a reputable home care agency. Agencies can greatly vary with different systems, services, and quality of care. There are many options to consider, but choosing a reputable home care agency will make all the difference. Reputable home care agencies have experience with a wide range of clients and situations, and can therefore pair clients with the best caregivers possible. If you want to become a home caregiver or if you are looking for home care services, get in touch with Alegre Home Care. Our services include recovery care, senior care and assisted living services, memory care, and in-home child care — all in the familiar comfort of one’s own home.