Thanksgiving and Seniors: 10 Tips

If you are entertaining elderly friends or family members this Thanksgiving, a few considerations can make the meal and the day better for everyone.

  1. If you are transporting the person to your home, make sure you allow enough time to get them out the door and into the car. Dementia and limited mobility can lengthen the time they need to get ready. If your loved one is in an assisted living or nursing facility, let the staff know you will be coming to pick them up and when.
  2. Make sure to ask for any medications they will need while with you during the day, and bring along extra supplies and a change of clothes. You want to be prepared for any unforeseen accidents.
  3. In your home, play music instead of the TV. Music stirs memories and creates a calmer environment. Involve your loved one in simple tasks such as setting the table. If they like to cook, let them help with some of the simpler prep such as washing vegetables, putting prepared dishes in serving bowls, etc. Unless you know they can handle it, avoid the stove and knives.
  4. Use less salt in your dishes as it can spike blood pressure. Use more alternative seasonings instead.
  5. Prepare one or two of their favorites dishes. Food is one of those basic joys that everyone connects with.
  6. Make foods that are easy to chew and digest. And nutritionally balanced.
  7. Limit alcohol consumption for obvious reasons. Also keep in mind that dementia can reduce the person’s ability to know when to say when.
  8. Play simple games or do puzzles instead of watching television to engage your loved ones.
  9. Since dementia often effects short term memory, it makes conversation difficult. Look through old photos to help your loved ones engage.
  10. And lastly, try to be present and in the moment. Sharing a memory, a laugh or even just a warm embrace can bring joy to both of you. Happy Thanksgiving!

by Joan Garbow, MSW, LCSW, CCM[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]