Little girl making Christmas gingerbread cookies with a grandparents

It’s the holidays. Fresh white snow blankets the ground. Forest green wreaths hang from the doors. While all of these hallmarks aim to lift our spirits, certain folks, such as homebound seniors, may not be feeling so festive. Jeff Salter, founder and CEO of Caring Senior Service, attributes this to increased social isolation. 

“During the holidays, everyone could spend time with family and friends, but seniors might not be able to get out of the house to visit those loved ones during the holidays,” Salter told McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse. “Someone that’s homebound really can’t participate in all the traditional holiday activities. They can’t get out to put their Christmas decorations up, they can’t maybe walk around, enjoy the holiday lights. And so those things really can contribute to [each] other; limited mobility leads to loneliness.”

To combat this loneliness, Salter recommends finding new ways to incorporate loved ones into holiday traditions such as baking and decorating. Planning ahead and making adjustments to make it easier for homebound family members to participate are also important.

“Sometimes those challenges can mean there’s extra steps that someone has to take,” Salter said. “It’s not just going to Grandma’s house and picking her up to take her to the store. It means they have to stop, maybe help her get ready, get her in a wheelchair or walker, get her out to the car. There are a lot of steps involved.”

Recognizing changes that need to be made can help create a routine, which will go a long way toward reducing stress levels for both caregivers and patients. 

“Try and mentally destress where you can schedule some time for yourself, even though it can feel overwhelming. The reality is that it is challenging to take care of someone when you have a senior that has a complex medical situation,” Salter said. “ If you don’t take care of yourself, you’re not going to be there to take care of that loved one.”

Sometimes being an unpaid caregiver can be overwhelming for busy people. That’s where companies like Caring Senior Services can come in and help ease the workload. 

“[Patients] need to get out and do their own shopping; they need to go out and run their own errands,” said Salter. “That’s a great time for them to consider calling a company like ours, and come in to help them for a few hours a few times a week.”

While the holidays can be a hectic time with a homebound loved one, Salter offers a reminder to keep it all in perspective. A certain virtue, he noted, will go a long way toward having the best possible holiday season.

“I think it’s just patience,” Salter said. “People have to really understand that the natural part of aging is [getting] slower and just to value that meaningful time with a loved one.”

Home Sweet Home is a feature appearing Mondays in McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse. The story focuses on a heartwarming, entertaining or quirky happening affecting the world of home care. If you have a topic that might be worthy of the spotlight in Home Sweet Home, please email Foster Stubbs at [email protected].