December 2, 2012

Your Advocacy Connection: The Holidays

By Julie Arndt
GolderCare Solutions

The Holiday Season is upon us. The stores are full of Christmas items, and toys are ready to be purchased. Excitement is in the air. It is truly a joyous season that gives us an opportunity to be openly thankful for our blessings and to give to those who are less fortunate. The down side of the holidays is this…not everyone is surrounded by feast, family and friends. For those who are suffering for whatever reason (health, finances or personal) the holidays can be extremely painful. Just being mindful of this as we go about our business in the days ahead may create an opportunity to make a
positive difference in the life of someone who is hurting. For seniors and those who are disabled, the holidays can be especially difficult.

For those in nursing homes, the days leading up to the holiday can be quite festive, as many activities are underway for the holidays: baking, decorating, outings, singing. Most of the nursing homes in our area are fond of bringing in youth to sing Christmas carols. Lots of hype and energy is spent preparing for that last week of December. Consider volunteering or inquiring if there is something that you could do to
contribute to the festivities.

This time can be a source of anxiety for a nursing home resident who is unable to send cards or purchase gifts. Perhaps they cannot financially afford to do what they historically have done to celebrate. Perhaps they cannot physically get to the store or see adequately to write a note or card. We don’t know what the source of their worry is unless we inquire. Take a moment to find out what is on their mind. Help them come up with a creative way to ease their concerns. You may be surprised. They may be worried about their friend down the hall who has no family or friends looking out after their needs.

Some may worry about how their family is going to go about their holiday traditions. Will they include me this year? Will the nursing home let me go to attend a family gathering? How will I get there? Again, communication is key. Find out now what their worries are and talk to the rest of your family and the nursing home staff to find a solution. This is the season of giving and it’s amazing to what lengths people will go to help another have a good experience…you just don’t know unless you inquire.

For those who are housebound due to illness or injury, this month can be grueling. Perhaps it’s the first time that Grandma is unable to do the decorating or bake the special treats that only she can master. This is a transitional time for an elderly parent and their family. Talk to each other. Perhaps it is time for new traditions. Perhaps one of the grandchildren can sit down with a computer and help their grandparent purchase gifts online or be their personal shopper. Perhaps holiday baking changes a bit, with Grandma giving direction from the kitchen table.

At GolderCare, we focus on solving long term care problems and helping people get the care they need along with determining the best way to pay for that care. But at the root of everything we do is quality of life. The holidays are a perfect to time to ponder what is important to you and those you love. It truly is the season of giving.

Julie Arndt is a licensed social worker working in the field of geriatrics for over 25 years with expertise in medical case management and community based services.