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What can be done to make the holidays more merry?

Holiday seasons can be a real challenge for senior citizens

Baking can be a great activity during the holiday season. Image credit: 123RF Stock photo

Baking can be a great activity during the holiday season. Image credit: 123RF Stock photo

The boxes of Christmas decorations may not have yet gathered dust in their storage closets yet. Still, it is fair to ponder what preparations would improve the holidays for all family members during Christmas 2014.
For many families, the holiday season marks one of the only times of the year that all members gather together to celebrate and enjoy each other’s company. The portrait before and after the joyous time, however, is often far less picturesque for seniors living alone or far away from relatives.
As the aging population continues to grow — the U.S. Census Bureau projects more than 88 million people age 65 and older in the U.S. by 2050 — memory loss and dementia in seniors are posing a major public health burden and it is often difficult for relatives to know if aging family members are getting the level of stimulation and socialization they want and need.
But there is hope. According to a recent study by the Harvard School of Public Health, researchers have found evidence that seniors in the United States with active social lives may have slower rates of memory decline and lower mortality rates.
Given these findings, Kelly Lindell, owner of Comfort Keepers, a franchised, in-home care service provider located in the Osseo/Maple Grove area, has offered some tips for family members to address with their aging relatives next holiday season to ensure a happy and healthy time is had by all.
1. Link up with like minds
Senior groups plan activities like exercise, meals, games, and trips for seniors wanting to get out of the house and expand their circle of friends. Look into these groups with your relative and find one that best fits their interests. Maybe offer to go along for the first visit.
2. Pick up a pen
Sending holiday cards is a wonderful way to spark a new kind of relationship between family members. Once these lines of communication have been opened, seniors will be more inclined to keep up with the correspondence long after the holiday season ends.
3. Get in the game
Brainteasers, memory games, and mathematical puzzles are not only fun but can employ areas of the brain that aren’t regularly stimulated. Try a few with your relative while you are in town and leave them with a few books or games that they can continue using after you leave. These books make great holiday gifts.
4. Make a list and check it twice
Offer to take your loved one out to enjoy holiday shopping to help them select and carry the perfect presents. This activity helps them to engage in and enjoy the tradition of the season.
5. Hire a helping hand
If you are still concerned your relative is in jeopardy of mentally “checking out” when the holiday season comes to a close, discuss the possibility of hiring an in-home companion. Not only will this person be able to help with basic chores and activities, but the companion will be able to provide much-needed social interaction for your loved one on a daily, weekly, or live-in basis.
6. Engage other resources
If you have concerns about your loved one’s well-being, download a free assessment guide to help you determine if your concerns are warranted as well as provide ideas on how to address concerns. An example of such a resource is “Using Your Five Senses This Holiday Season,” which is available online at ter/news-and-highlights/five-senses. A full assessment guide is available at
Lindell’s Comfort Keepers is a franchise network in the in-home care market for senior and other adults needing care. Since its founding in 1998, the network has grown to more than 600 franchised locations around the world. For more information about Comfort Keepers, visit www.comfort

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