Happy Thanksgiving by Maureen Wendt, President/CEO
Happy Thanksgiving!! As we look forward to Thanksgiving and then the holiday season – it is a good time to give thanks to our family and people close to us. I’d like to extend my thanks to all employees, members, volunteers, sponsors, donors and the community who contribute to the success of The Dale Association.
As you plan and prepare for your holiday celebration, please take time to reflect on those things you are thankful for. The holidays are a time when family and friends come together and share memories, laughs and good cheer. Even though the holidays are enjoyable, they can be demanding. For some, the added stress can lead to emotions that sneak up on you and pull you down when you least expect it. The holidays are not as joyful for some as they are for others.
Maintaining good health throughout stressful times is directly linked to a positive mind set. Improving your mood need not be time consuming or expensive – try these simple strategies to distract your attention from the hectic pace of life around you and restore the energy you need.
Make sure you are well rested. According to the National Institute on Aging, an estimated 30 percent of middle aged Americans don’t get enough sleep. Factors that can help you get a good night’s sleep are sticking to a regular bedtime, sleeping in a cool and dark room and avoiding stimulants such as caffeine after mid-afternoon.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day. Moderate exercise is an activity that leaves you feeling warm, but still able to talk. And don’t forget routine activities like mopping the floor and raking leaves are considered moderate exercise.
Music has the ability to alter your mood. If you want to relax, listen to slow, soothing classical music. To energize yourself, pick something that is faster such as jazz or pop. Or consider making your own music by playing a musical instrument.
I’d also like to share some ideas for people who are caring for a loved one with dementia. For families living with a loved one with dementia, the holidays can also be a difficult time. Caregiving responsibilities layered on top of keeping up with holiday traditions can take its toll on dementia families, especially the caregiver. The person with dementia may also feel a sense of loss during the holidays. With some planning and adjusted expectations, your celebrations can be filled with joy and magical moments to cherish forever. Some tips for enjoying the holidays.
Adjust your expectations
No one, including yourself, should expect you to maintain every holiday tradition or event.
- Give yourself permission to do only what you can reasonably manage
- Choose holiday activities and traditions that are most important to you
- Host a small family dinner instead of a throwing a big holiday party. Start a new tradition. Have a potluck dinner where family or friends each bring a dish
- Consider serving a catered or takeout holiday meal. Many grocery stores and restaurants offer meals to go.
Involve the person in the festivities
There are many manageable activities the person and you can do together, such as:
- Bake favorite holiday recipes together. The person can stir batter or decorate cookies.
- Set the table. Avoid centerpieces with candles and artificial fruits and berries that could be mistaken for edible snacks.
- Talk about events to include in a holiday letter
- Prepare simple foods such as appetizers
- Read cards you receive together
- Look through photo albums or scrapbooks. Reminisce about people in the pictures and past events.
- Watch a favorite holiday movie
- Sing favorite carols or read biblical passages
When the person lives in a care facility
A holiday is still a holiday whether it is celebrated at home or at a care facility. Here are some ways to celebrate together:
- Consider joining your loved one in any facility-planned holiday activities
- Bring a favorite holiday food to share
- Read a favorite holiday story or poem out loud
I hope this helps make the holidays less stressful for families. Again, Happy Thanksgiving!
The Dale Association is a unique not for profit organization who has been responding to needs of adults in our Niagara community for 70 years, and whose mission is to provide comprehensive services and coordinate connections for adults in Niagara and neighboring counties which enhance their health and wellness and empower them to build bridges into their communities. This important mission is the focal point of each program – including our Senior Services, Mental Health Services, and Caregiver Support Services. For more information about The Dale Association, its programs, or volunteering, please visit www.daleassociation.com, call (716)433-1886, or stop in at 33 Ontario Street, Lockport.