Almost everyone feels stressed about holidays and especially family gatherings. Maybe it’s about some difficult relationships in your family. Perhaps it is the host or hostess who is feeling the pressure to prepare everything for visitors. For many people, the journey itself is stressful. For the elder of the family it may be more than what everyone else gets. It may be that with age-related changes, housing needs to be built for your aged loved ones.
When an older person, with or without dementia changes in the brain, is exposed to a large group, a lot of noise and commotion, they can feel overwhelmed. Coping abilities may decrease as people age. Forgetting names or events, losing track of conversation, and dealing with it by acting out are all normal for an elder. Sometimes they calm down completely and withdraw. Sometimes cranky behavior or being angry is what you see. These are signs that it is just too much.
Here are our tips AgingParents.com, where we give advice to older parents on a daily basis:
- For any elders in your family with memory loss, whether or not you consider it “normal,” Limit the time your elderly parent is with groups of people who have gathered for a holiday. Maybe it’s loud and it affects the older one too much or they’ve just become over-stimulated. You might suggest leaving the room to do something quiet or maybe they can take a nap for a while. It can keep a lid on the feelings your aging parent can’t express.
- Your elderly loved one wants to be with others, but may not recognize their own limitations. If they offer to help with any work, and you want them to join in, keep it simple. Don’t ask your aging parents to do heavy cooking or handle meals, even if they were perfectly capable in the past. Aging can change us in unexpected ways. Coordinate with others to see that things are done in an efficient manner, rather than relying on the person who may find it difficult to help.
- Watch for signs of distress in your loved one, When you notice an anxious look, a feeling of restlessness that you pick up on, acting angrily, or withdrawing altogether, these could be signs that it’s all too much for your aging parents at the moment. is more. Reach out and ask quietly if he needs a short break from the excitement. Doing it in a low-key, respectful way allows your aging parent to hang out for a while if he or she chooses to. This can come as a relief.
Overall, holiday gatherings can be fun and stressful at the same time. For those of us who aren’t realizing those age-related limitations, it might be all right. We may be completely unaware of how difficult it can be for an elder to be limited in thinking, remembering, and concentration. One thing we can do is to increase our own understanding that the ability of an aging person, especially one with obvious memory loss, is not the same as the ability of every other person. Having a good time with family and friends may not be as easy as we want them to be. With some care and the right attention, you can make it easy for everyone.