Holiday Tips with Katie Hammer

Our own Katie Hammer was featured in Strictly Business this month with some great holidays tips to keep in mind:

Katie Hammer of The Waterford Communities provides helpful tips for seniors and their loved ones, particularly during the holidays, as well as some great ways to get involved:

“The holiday season should be a joyful and uplifting time of year when people gather to enjoy the company and memories of family and friends. At The Waterford Communities we know the importance of seniors not feeling isolated, lonely or left out during winter months and the holidays because this can lead to depression. Depression is a medical condition that can be treated once it is recognized and properly diagnosed.

The Waterford Communities would like to offer a few ideas and helpful suggestions to make the holiday season less stressful for your loved one.

• Stay Connected: Staying in contact and making visits when possible is especially important during the holidays so they don’t feel like they are all alone.

• Plan Ahead: If your loved one tends to tire easily or becomes overstimulated quickly, try limiting the amount of time they are participating in an activity or limit the number of activities they are involved in. Also, schedule a time for them to lie down and rest so they don’t become so exhausted.

• Visit Memory Lane: “Leading authorities have observed that memory and ‘life review’ are important parts of the aging process,” says Barry Lebowitz, Ph.D., deputy director of UCSD’s Stein Institute for Research on Aging. You can use old pictures and home videos to encourage your loved ones to share stories from the past.

• Help: Ask if they would like help addressing envelopes to mail out holiday cards so they can keep in touch with old friends and family.

At The Waterford Communities we have found that having volunteers, especially during the holidays, also play a very important role in the quality of life for our residents. Having a volunteer allows the residents to have someone to talk to one-on-one or in groups that isn’t staff. This is especially important if the person doesn’t have family or friends that are able to visit. A volunteer is also able to share stories with the residents from a different perspective.

The Waterford Communities’ College View location offers several activities and events during the holiday season for all of our residents. Lincoln Public Schools arranges for one of their choirs to come into our facility and put on a holiday performance; the VA comes in and delivers gifts to all of our veterans; the Salvation Army delivers presents every year for all of our residents; and a church does a special Christmas service for our residents. Also during the holiday season our activity director arranges a Christmas party for all of the residents to participate in; she has a family member volunteer to come in and do special Christmas crafts with the residents; she reads The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve to the residents; and she also arranges a New Year’s Eve party. Having all these activities and events going on during the holidays really helps keep our residents in good spirits and allows them to enjoy the holidays without feeling alone or down.”

For those who will be visiting their senior loved ones this holiday season, Hammer also points out the importance of paying attention to their quality of life. “It is sometimes more difficult for family members who see their senior relatives often to see warning signs of declining health. So oftentimes it tends to be family members who are traveling in from out of state or who visit infrequently who will notice if there is a decline in health. With the holidays approaching, The Waterford Communities would like to offer a few warning signs to watch for as you will likely be visiting senior family members and loved ones.

• Cleanliness of the Home: Mildew, insects, or rotting leftovers in the fridge are signs to be aware of.

• Personal Hygiene: If your loved one isn’t bathing regularly or as often as they used to it could be because they aren’t able to on their own anymore or they are forgetting they need to bathe.

• Mismanagement of Medications: They aren’t taking them properly or taking them at all.

• Forgetfulness: Occasional forgetfulness is ok and normal; however, frequent memory lapses could indicate the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

• Activity Level: They aren’t as active and social with loved ones as they used to be.

The Waterford Communities are available to answer any questions you may have regarding the warning signs of declining health or questions about our services and facilities.”

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