Holiday Visit Checklist and Top 10 Gifts for Seniors

home careHeading home to Minneapolis to visit a senior for the holidays? Often times, it isn’t until we see for ourselves how Mom or Dad is living that we get involved in their care at home and begin to inquire about services. Even if you’ve recently visited Mom or Dad, now is the time complete a checklist to make sure the conditions of aging aren’t jeopardizing your senior’s health and safety. Complete this checklist provided by Home Instead Senior Care® Minneapolis. If you see any of these situations, your senior may need extra help.

  1. Look in the medicine cabinet. Review the number of pills prescribed, refill date and number of pills in the bottle to help determine if your loved one is taking the accurate amount of medication. According to Arcadia Healthcare, at least 1.5 million Americans are sickened, injured or killed each year by errors in prescribing, dispensing and taking medications and it’s the number two cause of hospital re-admittance.
  2. Look in the refrigerator, freezer and drawers. Spoiled food or an empty refrigerator can mean your elderly loved one can’t get to the grocery store. Declining health may be prompting more convenience and junk foods, and a neglect of proper nutrition. According to Mayo Clinic here in Minnesota, older adults often have health issues that can lead to decreased appetite or trouble eating. These can include chronic illness, difficulty chewing or swallowing and diminished taste and smell.
  3. Look on top of furniture and countertops. Dust and dirt in high and low places of their home may be signs that household tasks are becoming more difficult for your parents. Caution your senior not to climb or reach where they’re no longer able. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), falls are the leading cause of injury and deaths among older adults. They are also the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma.
  4. Look at your senior’s appearance. Unkempt clothing may signal that your loved one is neglecting personal hygiene because of failing vision. The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota cites macular degeneration as the leading cause of severe vision loss in people age 60 and older. Gray or blank spots may mask the center of your senior’s visual field. The condition usually develops gradually, but sometimes progresses rapidly, leading to severe vision loss in one or both eyes.
  5. Look under beds and sofas. Old newspapers, books and magazines stowed there may show a decreased ability for your parent to organize things which creates a fire hazard. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, older adults are 2.5 times more likely to die in fires than the overall population. It may also be a sign of hoarding which is caused by a mental condition.
  6. Look to your parents’ Minneapolis area neighbors to find out about their daily routine. If your seniors are at home more, watching television and avoiding stimulating conversation and companionship or not getting their mail daily, it may be a sign they need help at home.
  7. Look through the mail. A parent’s dementia may cause him or her to forget to pay bills and answer correspondence. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that as many as 5.2 million people in the United States are living with the disease, which is characterized by forgetfulness.

If it appears that Mom or Dad need home care services or you’d simply feel better if someone checked in on them, consider contacting Home Instead Senior Care. Our CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured, and equipped to help seniors with their home care and companionship needs such as meal preparation, light housekeeping, medication reminders, errands and shopping.

Top 10 Holiday Requests Seniors Likely Want But Won’t Ask For

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What do you get Grandma this year? A new blanket . . . again? How about a pair of slippers? While those gifts could satisfy the needs or desires of a senior loved one, why not choose a present that is even more meaningful: a gift from the heart. Once you choose something, download this Holiday Elf Certificate, write down your intended activity and give it to the senior in your life as the best holiday gift they could get.

  1. Wrap and send packages. Arthritis can make wrapping those holiday presents a challenge. Schedule a gift-wrapping afternoon, complete with hot chocolate, cookies and plenty of family stories.
  2. Take your loved one shopping. Whether you plan a trip to the Minnesota Mall of America or an online shopping spree, make it a special day.
  3. Send holiday greetings. Offer to spend an afternoon helping your loved one address and send holiday cards, either by mail or as online photo greetings. This helps friends & family to know that your Mom or Dad is doing well and makes it more likely that they’ll receive holiday cards from others.
  4. Lend a hand.  Carry on the holiday cooking traditions, asking your senior loved one to help where he or she can. Or, ask everyone to bring a favorite dish.
  5. Focus on others. Get your senior loved one and the entire family involved in gathering supplies for a homeless shelter or serving a holiday meal at Mom or Dad’s church.
  6. Deck the halls. Bending, lifting and reaching to get those holiday decorations in place isn’t always possible for an older adult. Enlist the help of the grandkids and make decorating their home a fun multi-generational activity.
  7. Stay connected. Help an older adult connect with loved ones far away, whether over the phone or through a video-calling service like Skype. Show them how to use it so that you can stay connected all year!
  8. Plan a fun event. Get a group of your senior loved one’s friends together to serenade other older adults in an assisted living facility or Minneapolis nursing home.
  9. Celebrate the reason for the season. Attend a religious program with your senior loved one. Be flexible with service times if necessary.
  10. Give the gift of time. Sometimes all an older adult wants is companionship. Download this holiday activity calendar for festive activity suggestions, then make room in your schedule to spend time together.

While you may not be able to add the following 10 gift ideas to a shopping list, you can bet they’re on your loved one’s wish list.

The Trees are Up! Be a Santa to a Senior

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John Stuck giving a pre-season “pep talk” to the trees about successful representation of Home Instead Senior Care of Minneapolis!

There’s a whistling sound coming through the trees and it’s not old man winter. It’s the buzzing sound of excitement as the Be a Santa to a Senior® program gets underway, brought to you by Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis. Trees are set up all over Minneapolis that contain tags showing names of appreciate seniors that can’t wait to receive a gift. But hurry! You must choose your senior gift recipient by December 8th, 2012. If we are going to meet and possibly exceed last year’s amazing accomplishment of delivering over 2,000 gifts, we need your help!

Join the Be a Santa to a Senior Campaign

The Be a Santa to a Senior® campaign is all about helping seniors who are alone or in need. The campaign, which first launched in 2006 by our parent organization, helps seniors to get a little TLC during the holidays. The Minneapolis office of the Home Instead Senior Care® network, the world’s largest provider of non-medical in-home care and companionship services for older adults, has partnered with local non-profits groups like Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly, Meals on Wheels and several Lunds/Byerlys, several nursing homes and low income housing to provide gifts and companionship to seniors who otherwise might not receive either this holiday season. It began with just one nursing home, and has since grown into a movement.

Here’s a little story that illustrates the impact this program can have on seniors’ lives. The year after its fledgling effort, Home Instead Senior Care volunteers returned to the first nursing home they had visited the year before and discovered their card to one of the residents still pinned to the bulletin board. They learned that the card and gift from Home Instead were the only ones she received that previous year, so the card continued to be very special to her.

Now you can help brighten a senior’s life too.

How to Participate in Be a Santa to a Senior

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Creative Be a Santa to a Senior display at Starbucks

Here’s how it works:
1. Head to any of the following locations:

  • Lund’s or Byerly’s stores with pharmacies in Minnetonka, St. Louis Park, Wayzata, Plymouth or downtown Minneapolis, MN
  • Starbucks 2661 Campus Drive, Plymouth, MN
  • Starbucks 16725 C.R. 24, Plymouth, MN
  • Starbucks 4175 Vinewood Lane North, Plymouth, MN
  • Starbucks 7802 Olson Memorial Highway, Golden Valley, MN
  • TwinWest Chamber of Commerce – 10700 Old County Road 15, Suite 170 Plymouth, MN 55441

2. Locate the Christmas trees, and choose any ornament with a senior’s name on it. You will find gift suggestions for that senior printed on the ornament.
3. Purchase the item(s) listed, put the item in a gift bag, return to the store with the ornament and deliver them to a store employee.
Your participation can make a difference!

About the Be a Santa to a Senior Campaign

Here’s how the program works. The Home Instead Senior Care network partners with local non-profit and community organizations. Together they identify seniors who perhaps live alone, do not have family members nearby, or are experiencing financial difficulties. The program targets many seniors who otherwise might not receive gifts or visits from family during the holidays.

Home Instead Minneapolis then works with local businesses and retail stores that are willing to help by placing trees and ornaments within their various locations. The involvement from busy stores gives the program visibility and provides a convenient way for shoppers to volunteer their assistance during the busy holiday season.

Since its inception, the Be a Santa to a Senior has attracted nearly 60,000 volunteers throughout North America, and has provided 1.2 million gifts to over 700,000 seniors who are in need of assistance or companionship. Now you can join the movement and help a senior in your Minnesota community.

Need Further Information?

The Be a Santa to a Senior website, provides a locator tool that enables you to find a store by zip code.

Tips for Seniors and Caregivers to Survive the Holidays

Be a Santa Minneapolis
Click here for more information!

Whether you’re senior with a large family or young family with small children, the holidays can take their toll on your time and emotions. That is why the Home Instead Center for Successful Aging focused on providing you these holiday stress busters.

For Caregivers

  1. Communicate your needs
    Difficult family dynamics can take center stage during the holidays. Conflict may arise if family members can no longer continue their traditional holiday roles. Let yourself be heard and invite conversation around conflicts. Communicating is the best way to help smooth out problems and avert new ones.
  2. home carePlan ahead
    Lower your level of stress by starting your holiday preparations way in advance. Make a list before the season arrives of what needs to get completed and purchased.
  3. Be flexible
    The holidays are steeped in personal, family and religious traditions. Maintaining those is a lot of responsibility for anyone, especially family caregivers, who lead busy lives while caring for aging parents. Diane K. Hendricks, social worker for the Center, recommends: “As a family, ask yourself, ‘What is important to continue and what can we adapt or let go?’”
  4. Be resourceful
    Take a look at your list from suggestion #2 and think about who might be able to help. Think about their skills and time commitment. Sometimes, people simply need to be asked. Maybe a Home Instead CAREGiver could help?
  5. Take care of yourself
    You hear it every year – don’t over-eat during the holidays and keep exercising. That’s easier said than done, for sure. Make a concerted effort to schedule time for exercise and keep healthy snacks handy to help avoid sugary holiday treats.
  6. Make time for your traditions
    One of the most important things about the holidays is creating memories with your loved ones.  Don’t let favorite traditions go by the wayside during the busy holiday season. If time or circumstances make them difficult to maintain, adapt them as necessary. Consider making volunteering for the Home Instead Be a Santa to a Senior program part of your holiday traditions!
  7. Look for comic relief
    Nothing lifts the spirit like a good laugh! Gather friends together for a game night or to watch a funny holiday movie. Or, for immediate relief, let the queen of aging humor, Mary Maxwell, give her a one word solutions for those that might not want to cook a large holiday dinner.

For Seniors

    1. Reconsider the menu
      If Mom can no longer handle preparing and cooking the traditional meal on her own, make it a group effort. It’s a win-win: Mom can supervise and the next generation can learn all the secrets to making those favorite family recipes. Involve Mom’s home care provider to do the grocery shopping and prep work.
    2. Be their eyes, hands and feet
      When arthritis prevents seniors from writing cards or macular degeneration damages eyesight and makes it difficult to shop for gifts, you can offer to take on those tasks. If time is short, suggest more efficient options such as online shopping and sending e-cards.
    3. Mix it up
      Older adults are usually most alert and at their best earlier in the day. Why not plan a holiday brunch rather than a lunch, or attend a daytime religious service instead of the evening one?
    4. Go Skype
      Distance can separate older adults from loved ones, which exacerbates loneliness, isolation and depression during the holidays. Use the latest technology to help an older adult stay connected to loved ones from afar.
    5. Think simple
      You may love seeing the family home all decked out for the season, but hauling boxes of decorations may become impossible for seniors who struggle with mobility and balance issues. Get together with family and friends and decide which holiday decorating traditions to keep and what to forego.

  • Hit the road
    You no doubt remember it as a child – those holiday light tours that you and your parents loved. A holiday driving tour is an easy way to bring back the memories and joy to an older adult who can no longer decorate. Get a list of places to visit in Minneapolis!
  • Compensate when necessary
    If hearing impairment keeps Dad from enjoying the annual holiday movie, check out the latest sound enhancement technology. If Mom is having trouble seeing the deck of playing cards, look for large print cards or activities that can help keep her in the game.
  • minneapolis holidayRelive memorable moments
    Seniors with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias will especially appreciate opportunities to tap into old memories. Read our post on preserving family memories for ideas.
  • Make new memories
    Sometimes, things must change. If an older adult can’t participate in the holiday or is hospitalized, why not create a simple video that shares highlights of the season? Or arrange to have a group sing carols to your senior loved one – traditional songs from his or her generation.
  • Get help – fast!
    One of the best ways to adapt holiday activities is to ask for help . Enlisting the help of a professional caregiver to help with meal preparation or to provide transportation for your loved one can lighten the load for families and free them up to maximize special holiday time with their senior loved one.

Gearing up for Be a Santa to a Senior

Be a Santa to a SeniorBe a Santa to a Senior®, the popular campaign that in 2011 delivered more than 2,000 gifts to local needy seniors, is being planned again this holiday season as older adults continue to face poverty and loneliness.

Home Instead Senior Care® Minneapolis needs your help to provide even more gifts and companionship this year to seniors who otherwise might not receive either.

“Seniors faced with medical bills and the high cost of living can find they have little left at the end of the year,” said John Stuck, owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office serving Minneapolis and the Western Suburbs. “That’s not the only issue, though. Personal needs may become magnified for so many living alone with no one to share their problems.”

Senior SantaChristmas trees will be going up soon in which generous folks will pick up ornaments with the first names of seniors and their gift requests, buy items on the list and return them unwrapped to the store. From there, gifts need to be collected, organized, stored & distributed and that’s where we need your help! If you are a corporation or senior care residence who has compassionate employees and space to store gifts, please consider volunteering your time and location to our Be a Santa to a Senior program.

The huge success of last year’s program would not have been possible without our partners which include Byerly’s & Lund’s Pharmacy locations, Starbucks, The Brost Clinic, Health Partners, Minneapolis Women’s Club, Upsher-Smith, Park Nicollet Orthopedic Clinic, Allina Health Clinic Medical Arts, Oakwood Elementary, MN School of Business and Herzig University. Please consider adding your name to this list and putting a smile on thousands of seniors’ faces.

Contact Us Today!