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Thanksgiving Tips for Caregivers and Seniors

It may be hard to believe, but tomorrow is Thanksgiving and people all over the nation are preparing for a lavish feast!

Just as Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks and enjoy quality time spent with family and friends, this holiday can also be stressful for caregivers and seniors alike.

Today we want to serve up some tips and advice on how to make your and your aging loved one’s Thanksgiving Day special.

Tips for caregivers:

Accept help – Since you will likely be surround by family and friends at your Thanksgiving Day celebrations, if someone offers to look after your loved one at the party, accept their offer. This will give you a chance to be in the moment and to enjoy yourself and relax. Plus, your mind will be at ease knowing that your loved one is in good hands.

Prepare in advance – Perhaps your loved one has a hard time chewing or his or her taste buds have changed over time. If you’re in charge of the menu, or even contributing to a family potluck, you might want to consider preparing food that he or she enjoys and can chew easily. Additionally, depending on your loved one’s health requirements think about preparing a more nutritious meal that accommodates these dietary restrictions. There are lots of resources available online to help you find new, healthier recipes for old family favorites. This will allow your Family to enjoy the same meal together.

Keep yourself in mind – Don’t lose sight of yourself and what makes you happy. Sometimes caregivers become so focused on making sure that their loved ones are comfortable that they often forget about themselves. By constantly putting your needs on the back burner, this could potentially lead to burnout. The holidays are the perfect time to ask for help since you will more than likely be surrounded by friends and family. This Thanksgiving, clear your schedule for some “me time” to relax and recharge physically and emotionally.

Tips for seniors:

Be mindful – The holidays are full of delicious foods that are made with heavy sauces, sugar and other not-so-healthy additives that, admittedly, make everything taste wonderful. However, just because these foods are readily available doesn’t mean that multiple heaping portions need to end up on your plate. Be mindful of what you eat at Thanksgiving and make healthy choices when possible. Overeating at your Thanksgiving dinner can lead to health problems such as heartburn, indigestion or worse.

Socialize – If by chance you do not have any family members to celebrate Thanksgiving with, this does not necessarily mean that you have to dine alone. Rather, reach out to a local senior center for information about their Thanksgiving meals. Sharing a holiday experience with others will not only lift your spirits, but it can also provide you with a healthy meal as well – one you won’t have to cook!

Make Health a Priority – In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the holidays, don’t forget about your health. Remember to keep your health a top priority and if you begin to feel out of sorts, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with your physician. Depression, the flu and head colds are all common during the winter season, so be cognizant of the signs and symptoms of these ailments. Additionally, make sure that all of your prescriptions are filled and up-to-date before the holiday season so that you are never without the proper medications while traveling or when enjoying time with family and friends away from your home.

Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for all that we have, and although it can also be a stressful time for party hosts, caregivers and seniors, take a moment to review these tips and, even more importantly, reflect on all that you are grateful for this year! Happy Thanksgiving!

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St. Barnabas Health System
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