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Preparing For The Holidays With A Loved One In Assisted Living

Fort Worth, Texas, is a great place to spend the holiday season. Temperate weather, plenty of great holiday events, and a large community of seniors can help seniors of all ages and ability levels enjoy friends, family, and fun. If your loved one is in assisted living in Fort Worth, you may feel uncertain about how to make the holidays count. Here’s how to prepare everyone for a great holiday season. 

Signs and Symptoms to Watch Out For

Assisted living offers plenty of help and support, but you still have to stay on top of your loved one’s needs. Be mindful of signs that your loved one may not be getting the support they need, including: 

  • Poor hygiene 
  • A dirty home 
  • Changes in mood or personality 
  • A recent fall 

Seniors may also struggle with depression. Depression is not a normal part of aging, nor an inevitability of assisted living. If your loved one suffers from depression, they need mental health treatment. Some warning signs include: 

  • Anger, unhappiness, hopelessness, or despondency
  • Increased conflicts with family members
  • Negligent personal hygiene 
  • Indifference to once-beloved hobbies or people 
  • Changes in mood or personality
  • Changes in sleeping or eating habits 

Preparing for the Holidays in Assisted Living in Fort Worth

As you navigate the many challenges of holiday planning — endless to-do lists, budgeting, shopping, and planning — don’t forget to include your senior loved one in the process. Tasks that seem mundane, like planning a family Christmas card, may be very important to them. These strategies can help you have a wonderful holiday, no matter where you choose to celebrate: 

  • Plan some events outside of the assisted living community. Everyone needs a break from familiar surroundings. Check out one of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra’s holiday performances, or enjoy luminous views at Gift of Lights at Texas Motor Speedway
  • Get involved in life at the assisted living community. This is your senior loved one’s home. Treat it like it matters, because it does. 
  • Visit your loved one as often as possible. 
  • Find ways to preserve family traditions. Even if your loved one no longer cooks the family dinner, can they host a family get-together in their new home? Or make a favorite dessert to share? 

Talking to Family 

It’s important to involve friends and family in a beloved senior’s life, especially when they transition to senior living and family time becomes more challenging. Some strategies for preserving these important relationships include: 

  • Telling loved ones about upcoming events at the assisted living community. 
  • Scheduling a few days for family to get together and visit your loved one.
  • Inviting family members to purchase gifts off of a senior’s wish list. 
  • Encouraging loved ones to call, email, or send a card if they can’t or won’t visit. 
  • Urging family members to remain positive and open-minded about assisted living. 
  • Reminding loved ones to listen to seniors’ feelings rather than telling them what or how they should feel. 

What to Say 

Some families worry that, by talking about assisted living or giving voice to their emotions, they’ll ruin the holidays. The reality is that everyone needs an outlet for their emotions. These tips can help you talk to your loved one, no matter what they’re feeling or struggling with: 

  • If you’re worried about your loved one’s well-being, be direct and compassionate. Don’t label or blame; instead, ask your loved one about their feelings and needs. 
  • Talk about holiday plans early and often. This gives your loved one time to process their emotions and express their desires. 
  • Ask your loved one what is most important to them this holiday season. Is there a tradition they don’t want to lose? A food they’re dying to eat? 

What Not to Say 

Seniors can have a wide range of reactions to spending the holidays in assisted living. The way you talk about assisted living can affect your loved one’s self-esteem and understanding of their own experience. Follow these strategies: 

  • Don’t minimize your loved one’s feelings or tell them how to feel. If they say they’re sad or angry, hear them out. 
  • Don’t assume you know how your loved one feels, or how they should feel. Ask them to share instead. 
  • Avoid making your loved one feel stigmatized or abandoned. Respect their privacy and independence by letting them make as many decisions as they can. Then visit them frequently so that they understand their important role in your family. 

Transitions during the holidays can be difficult. Your family’s traditions matter. But the right assisted living community can actually preserve those traditions by supporting your loved one’s efforts to remain happy, healthy, and as independent as possible. At Arbor, we believe in building on family traditions and shaping new memories that last a lifetime. We can help your family manage the challenges of caregiving while supporting your loved one’s emotional and physical needs. Give us a call today to learn more!

Francine O'Neill

About the Author: Francine O'Neill

Francine O’Neill serves as a clinical resource for resident care directors, overseeing ongoing quality improvement programs and regulatory compliance. She assists with identifying and implementing programs that enhance care delivery and service to our residents and their families. Francine has more than 20 years of experience in health care, serving in both clinical leadership and operations management positions across the continuum of care including assisted living, long term care and acute care. Francine's favorite traits in others are COMMITMENT and ACCOUNTABILITY.

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