How to Handle Holiday Stress | Senior Helpers of Elmhurst
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“Seniors look forward to the holiday season, but not the stress that comes with celebrating the holidays, said Director of Operations Mary O’Connor at the Senior Helpers Oak Brook Office, “It is important to juggle your loved ones needs with those of your family, your career and yourself. Holiday stress may hamper your loved one’s ability to enjoy the holidays to the fullest.“

There are steps you can take to minimize these stressors for senior family members. Here are a few suggestions you can take to help your loved one cope.

  • Helping the Senior Handle Grief - To help seniors handle holiday grief involving the loss of a spouse and good friends, encourage seniors to tell stories about their deceased loved one. It is a good way to help them grieve and limited the stress about their loss. As a caregiver, be sure to encourage them to share their own happy holiday anecdotes too.
  • Plan Ahead - Think of ways the person who has dementia can continue to participate in holiday preparations such as home decorating, singing and opening cards, helping with food preparation, picking out music to play and reminiscing about past holidays and traditions, especially from their youth.
  • Manage holiday get- togethers - Keep groups small to avoid overstimulation. Too much noise and a flurry of activity can easily overstimulate your loved one. Don’t host a large party for the extended family. Instead, have a few casual get-togethers with small groups of relatives spread over a couple of weeks. Limit the guest list.
  • Set aside a quiet space and encourage one-on-one visits - Whether the holiday gathering is at your house or a relative’s, it will be crowded and noisy. To avoid overstimulating your senior arrange for them to stay in a quiet room away from the group. Family members can take turns spending quality time with them in their calm space.
  • Plan activities they will enjoy - If your loved one loves to bake, organize a small group cookie-making session. If dad loves watching football, have everyone watch a game together. You could also have a family sing-a-long with songs your loved one would know.
  • Schedule important activities for their best time of day - There are times in the day when your older adult is at his or her best. Plan holiday activities that are most meaningful to your loved one when your senior is most likely to participate successfully.

For example, if your loved one gets agitated in the evening (as many people with dementia do), have the holiday party earlier in the day. Possibly, your loved one doesn’t wake up until late morning, then have the event later in the day.

For more information about how you can make sure your loved one has a great holiday season, call Senior Helpers at: 630-359-5775 or email Mary O’Connor at