A happy holiday meal is made complete when our senior family members join us at the table. However, sometimes the festivities and sudden change in diet can be a shock to the system for older adults. As an article on Generationsathome.com describes, “studies illustrate that emergency room visits for older adults jump an astounding 10% – 20% during the holidays.” Thankfully, many of the causes of this heartbreaking trend can be averted by taking a few steps to ensure senior health and wellbeing during the holiday season.
Too Much of a Good Thing
If you can’t overindulge during the holidays, when can you? This is the mindset of many Americans during the festive time of year. However, typical holiday dishes are often packed with sodium and sugar. An excess of either of these can trigger health emergencies in older adults. The high amount of salt hidden in many holiday favorites is a particularly big concern. An article by Untek College explains, “this strain on the blood vessels leading to the kidneys causes a spike in overall blood pressure, and for patients already dealing with heart issues or hypertension, this could spell a serious problem.”
Moderation is the key. Seniors should still be able to partake in the dining delights, so long as their intake does not exceed that advised by their doctor. Smaller portion sizes supplemented with healthy options may very well avoid a trip to the emergency room.
Easy Does It!
While food-related illnesses are the main culprit, older adults are also more susceptible to injury during this time of year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that between 2012-2013, 5.2 million adults over 65 were admitted to the hospital for injuries. During the holiday season, activities such as cooking can lead to burns and cuts. Additionally, post-meal sports and games can be a hazard for seniors who are unsteady on their feet.
It is important for seniors to feel included in family activities, especially during big gatherings. For this reason, younger family members need to be mindful of the dangers. This can be done by taking extra steps to involve elders in a safe way. Rightathome.net suggests pairing grandparents and their grandchildren for low impact activities such as crafts and board games.
Holidays in the Hospital
For many seniors, a holiday spent in the hospital is unavoidable. Whether admission occurred before or during the big day, countless families across the country spend at least a portion of the holidays at the hospital bedside of a loved one. A simple visit can do wonders for an elder who can’t be home for the holidays. Hospitals and temporary senior health facilities are often very accommodating for families during this time. These facilities may even offer health-conscious festive meal options, as well as activities.
Taking part in initiatives and programs that reach out to lonely elders is a great way to get in the giving spirit to support those seniors without close relatives. Older adults need and deserve our support year-round, however, a helping hand now can all feel all the more poignant. Likewise, it is important to give thanks to the doctors, nurses and other health care staff who spend their own holiday season caring for our senior citizens.
We at AMPM wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday season, as well as a prosperous new year.
Disclaimer: The materials contained on this website are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal or other professional advice on any subject matter. Advanced Medical Practice Management does not accept any responsibility for any loss which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site.