The countdown to Christmas is well and truly under way. Traditionally a time for celebration and family, Christmas often has less cheerful connotations for the many seniors who are alone.
According to ALONE, which supports older people in need in Ireland, 10% of people aged over 65 are at risk of poverty and 120,000 older people live alone across the country.
Home Instead Senior Care Waterford, which provides care to seniors in their own homes is offering useful advice to ensure our senior relatives, friends and neighbours are safe, warm and cared for this winter.
According to Danette Connolly, Director of Care at Home Instead it is imperative that our seniors have a safe and happy Christmas. “We can all play a part in ensuring that Christmas is a highly enjoyable event for all. Christmas is about friends, family and loved ones enjoying the festivities together. However not all of our seniors have a friend or relative to call upon, so it is up to us to be mindful of their needs and to keep them company.”
Ms. Connolly stressed the importance of visiting elderly relatives and neighbours over the Christmas holidays.
“Over the holiday season we tend to spend more time with our parents, grandparents or senior relatives so it is a good opportunity to make sure that they are looking after themselves properly, have sufficient food and heat and are safe in their homes”, she added. “If you have a neighbour nearby that you know is alone, it is often a good idea to organise a rota for visits or to do some shopping for them so that they will see a friendly face every day.”
“Often, simply dropping in for a cup of tea and a chat can alleviate the loneliness of a senior with no family nearby. Bringing a gift like a bale of briquettes or a hot dinner is practical and will go a lot further than a box of sweets or a cream cake.”
Ms. Connolly also advised that there are many warning signs to look out for that signal an ageing parent or relative needs more help at home.
· Do they seem to be eating well or is food spoiling in the fridge?
· Have they stopped doing daily grooming rituals like taking a shower or fixing their hair?
· Are they taking the right medications in the right doses at the right times?
· Does their car have new scratches or dents?
· Is mail or newspapers piling up without being read?
· Are they using furniture, towel bars or shower curtains to pull themselves up to stand?
· Are their paths and driveways ice free? Ensure that these are kept ice free with salt or sand.
· Do they have access to emergency numbers and phone numbers of family and neighbours written down or stored in their phone?
· Is there a supply of medication to get them through the holiday period?
“If you are visiting a senior relative during the Christmas holidays be aware of things that may be changing for your senior relatives. Be ready to spot the signs, have those tough conversations and help them get the support they need to remain happy and safe in their own home as long as possible.”
Home Instead Senior Care Waterford provides an array of senior care services such as light housekeeping and laundry, meal preparation, transport and companionship, up to and including personal care, dementia care, post hospital care and disability care.
For further information about the services log onto www.homeinstead.ieor call 051 333966.