Huge Success: Be a Santa to a Senior 2015!

Once again this holiday season, Minneapolis volunteers went above and beyond to make Christmas memorable for local seniors who may not have otherwise received gifts or companionship.

The 2015 Be a Santa to a Senior® program was a huge hit this year and I cannot thank the many volunteers involved enough for your support. Without the workshop full of elves taking care of putting up the trees, selecting tags and shopping for local seniors, storing the gifts, and helping to make the deliveries, this program would not exist. A heartfelt thank you goes out to each and every one of you! We at Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis understand this is a very busy time of year for all, but hopefully seeing the smiles on the faces of the seniors and knowing how much fun the volunteers had participating warms your heart as much as it does mine.

Delivering over 2,500 donated gifts, this truly was a memorable Christmas and I’d like to give a special shout out to the following businesses:

  • Security Life Insurance
  • Herzing University
  • Women’s Club of Minneapolis
  • Wells Fargo
  • Polaris
  • Lennox Senior Program
  • Federal Bankruptcy Courts
  • HealthPartners
  • Tommy Hilfiger Outlet
  • St. Louis Park Retired Firefighters
  • Plymouth Fire Department

To stay in touch and make sure that you’re informed about our Be a Santa to a Senior® program next year, like us on Facebook and you’ll see our timely updates. Check out some of the fun pictures!

BASTAS_poster

The Be a Santa to a Senior® campaign is all about helping seniors who are alone or in need. The Minneapolis office of the Home Instead Senior Care® network has partnered with local non-profits groups such as East Side Neighborhood Services in Minneapolis, Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly, Meals on Wheels, several nursing homes and low income housing to provide gifts and companionship to seniors who otherwise might not receive either during the holiday season. What began with just one nursing home has since grown into a movement.

The official kickoff began with decorating Christmas trees with ornament tags inside the establishment of our participating partners. Thank you to the 2015 partners:

From there, generous donors selected an ornament tag from the trees with the name of a senior and some suggestions of what they would like. The donors delivered the item(s) back to the location in a gift bag and the Be a Santa to a Senior “elves” picked up the gifts and delivered them to seniors in nursing homes, low income senior housing, adult day centers and personally nominated individuals.

Home Instead Minneapolis was thrilled to partner with several local fire stations. Relief associations, retired and off-duty firefighters from Golden Valley, Minneapolis, St Louis Park, Plymouth and Hopkins all assisted the program by picking up and storing the gifts.  When the gifts were all collected they also helped to deliver the gifts to several of the nursing homes, assisted living and senior apartment facilities in and around the Minneapolis area. THANK YOU to the Golden Valley Fire Family, Plymouth, Minneapolis, Hopkins and St. Louis Park fire stations and relief associations for being involved with our Be a Santa to a Senior® campaign! The members of these stations, along with retired members, spouses and family members, partnered with us and donated their own time.

Since its inception, the Be a Santa to a Senior® campaign has attracted over 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. We’re doing our little part here in Minneapolis and surrounding communities – you can join the movement and help a senior in your Minnesota community too!

The 2015 Be a Santa to a Senior® Campaign

The trees are up! As described by a senior who has received a gift from us, the Be a Santa to a Senior® program “shows there are angels on earth!” That is a perfect description and since there are trees set up all over Minneapolis, it is easy for you to be one of those “angels”.Be a Santa to a Senior

Recently, WCCO 4 News caught up with Home Instead Minneapolis’ John Stuck to talk about the program. Watch this short video that was featured on their local news program with Frank Vascellaro and Amelia Santaniello and learn how easy it is to participate!

About the Campaign

The trees will be set up on November 11th. 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. bastas5

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.

Join the 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 2003 by our parent organization, helps seniors 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 such as East Side Neighborhood Services in Minneapolis, Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly, Meals on Wheels and several nursing homes and low income housing to provide gifts and companionship to seniors who otherwise might not receive either this holiday season. What began with just one nursing home has since grown into a movement. Now you can help brighten a senior’s life too. Look for the trees beginning November 11th! bastas99

How to Participate

Here’s how it works:

  1. Head to any of the following locations:

Also, Home Instead Minneapolis is happy to announce a partnership with several local fire stations. Relief associations, retired and off-duty firefighters from Golden Valley, Minneapolis, St Louis Park, Plymouth and Hopkins are all assisting the program by picking up and storing the gifts.  When the gifts are all collected they will help us deliver the gifts to several of the nursing homes, assisted living and senior apartment facilities in and around the Minneapolis area. THANK YOU to the Golden Valley Fire Family, Plymouth, Minneapolis, Hopkins and St. Louis Park fire stations and relief associations for being involved with our Be a Santa to a Senior® campaign! The members of these stations, along with retired members, spouses and family members, are partnering with us and doing this on their own time.

  1. Locate the Christmas trees inside the establishment and choose any ornament tag with a senior’s name on it. You will find gift suggestions for the senior printed on the ornament.
  1. Purchase the item(s) listed, put the item in a gift bag, return to the store with the ornament and deliver the gift to a store employee. BASTAS_WCCO

Since its inception, the Be a Santa to a Senior® campaign 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 location by zip code.

The Trees Are Up! Be a Santa to a Senior!

senior videoIf you’re wondering what the Be a Santa to a Senior program is all about, one senior who received a gift from us last year explains it perfectly, “It shows there are angels on Earth.”   Trees are set up all over Minneapolis making it easy for you to be an “angel”. Tags on the trees show names of appreciative seniors like the one in this video that can’t wait to receive a gift. KSTP reporter Joe Mazan interviewed Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis’  own John Stuck as a proud supporter of the Be a Santa to a Senior program.

Be a Santa to a Senior St. Louis Park
Be a Santa to a Senior tree at the Byerly’s pharmacy in St. Louis Park, MN

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 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 East Side Neighborhood Services in Minneapolis, 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.senior_gift_tag

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

How to Participate in Be a Santa to a Senior

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

  • Byerly’s in Minnetonka and St. Louis Park
  • Starbucks 2661 Campus Drive, Plymouth, MN
  • Starbucks 16725 C.R. 24, Plymouth, MN
  • Starbucks 7802 Olson Memorial Highway, Golden Valley, MN
  • Home Instead Senior Care of MPLS, 9684 63rd Ave N., Maple Grove, MN 55369

Barista Susan standing next to their EMPTY tree! Thank you to all the Starbucks customers in Golden Valley who participated in our Be A Santa to a Senior program!!!
Barista Susan standing next to their EMPTY tree! Thank you to all the Starbucks customers in Golden Valley who participated in our Be A Santa to a Senior program!!!

2. Locate the Christmas trees, and choose any ornament with a senior’s name on it. You will find gift suggestions for the 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.

Hurry! The program ends soon, giving us time to gather and distribute the gifts to seniors. If we are going to meet and possibly exceed last year’s amazing accomplishment of delivering over 2,000 gifts, we need your help! 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.

be_a_santa_to_a_senior_mplsHome 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.

Successful Family Gatherings With a Senior Who Has Alzheimer’s

By John Stuck
senior giftsIn November, we had a great chat with Dr. Amy D’Aprix and Confidence to Care author Molly Carpenter about dealing with Alzheimer’s and other dementias around the holidays. In case you missed the live chat, download the transcript here! This sparked a lot of conversation from those caring for a senior with Alzheimer’s which continued in December when we chatted with expert David Troxel about Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias: Handling Anger and Combativeness. View the transcript of that discussion as well! molly carpenterBetter yet, join Molly Carpenter on January 21st in a live webchat where you’ll learn tips from other caregivers who have been in similar situations, discuss the successes and challenges you face day to day and share your advice and offer solutions. Register Today!

Whether you’re anticipating a holiday get-together in Minnesota, an anniversary celebration or a family birthday party, including a loved one with Alzheimer’s often requires special considerations. Here are four pieces of advice about hosting a successful holiday family get-together with a family member who has Alzheimer’s:

1. Stick to a familiar environment. Even if Grandma isn’t able to cook the meal this year, consider gathering at her home in Minneapolis like always. Less change, less anxiety.

2. Adjust expectations. If your loved one with Alzheimer’s can’t handle cooking the meal, go the easy route! Purchase the entire cooked meal from a grocery store and use disposalable or dishwasher-safe dishes. Same great family time, less hassle and stress.

3. Prep the kids. Talk to younger family members ahead of time about being patient with Mom or Dad and offer conversation tips. For example, instead of saying, “You already asked me that, Grandma,” just politely answer her question and change the subject to something new.

4. Create opportunities to reminisce. Keep traditions alive such as decorating cookies or doing a craft. Great activities keep the kids busy, and your loved one may not struggle as much with their memory when they’re recalling happy stories from long ago.
alz_app
Hopefully these tips are helpful to you and your other family members who are adapting to the reality of your loved one’s memory loss.

Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias Daily Advice App

In addition to trying this advice, I invite you to download the free Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias Daily Companion iPhone app, you can search for helpful tips there, too.

Gaining the Confidence to Care Book

This book focuses on both memory and behavior symptoms that family caregivers often need help with, including their senior loved one’s resistance to common personal care activities. Each of these chapters offer plenty of care approaches and prevention tips, and begin with a relevant and moving real-life family caregiver story.

cta-book-large

Get 3 Free Chapters now Or, Get the Entire Book for Free!

To request a free copy of the book, go to our Contact Us page, enter your information and, in the Comments section, provide your address and note that you’d like the Confidence to Care book. We’ll ship it to you for free! If you’d like to share about your experience with Alzheimer’s and the holidays or managing your loved one’s repetitive behaviors, join our book discussion.

One of the chapters in the book focuses on Anger and Aggression. Here’s a snapshot of what some of you have shared about your experience with anger and aggression in a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other dementias:

“My husband was such a gentle man, but now he has fits of angry outbursts.”

“Mom is quick to raise her voice and become angry with me. I am her daughter and live-in caregiver for the past 2+ years.”

“My mom-in-law has dementia, & it’s really getting bad. She slaps me, curses me, but I just walk it off. It’s really hard, but that’s what I do. It’s really, really hard. Believe me.”

My hope in sharing these experiences is that if you’re dealing with similar behaviors, you’ll find some amount of comfort and hope in the realization that you are not alone.

(Before I go on, I should also mention that not all people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias eventually become violent or aggressive. While these situations happen in some cases, not everyone experiences these behaviors.)

If you are at a loss for how to deal with a loved one’s aggression or anger, I want to assure you that there are ways to help minimize those behaviors.

Here are a few couple tips from the Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias Daily Companion app that the caregivers in our Minneapolis community found most helpful:

  1. Arguing with someone with dementia isn’t helpful. It often adds to their frustration and anger. Try redirection instead.
  2. Look for triggers. Was your loved one scared, tired or frustrated? Did you push them too hard to take that shower?

For additional tips, you can download the app for free or access aggression and anger tips via the Home Instead Senior Care Dementia Support Network online.

(By the way, many of you have asked about an Android version of the app. Currently it is only available for iPhone, but an Android version is in the works! Stay tuned.)

Finally, I invite you to learn more about our Alzheimer’s and dementia CARE services where you can request a CAREGiver who can assist and monitor your loved one so that you can enjoy your holiday gathering as well.

The Trees Are Up! Be a Santa to a Senior!

senior videoIf you’re wondering what the Be a Santa to a Senior program is all about, one senior who received a gift from us last year explains it perfectly, “It shows there are angels on Earth.”   Trees are set up all over Minneapolis making it easy for you to be an “angel”. Tags on the trees show names of appreciative seniors like the one in this video that can’t wait to receive a gift. KSTP reporter Joe Mazan interviewed Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis’  own John Stuck as a proud supporter of the Be a Santa to a Senior program.

senior trees

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 East Side Neighborhood Services in Minneapolis, 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.

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

How to Participate in Be a Santa to a Senior

senior_gift_tag 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 7802 Olson Memorial Highway, Golden Valley, MN
  • Home Instead Senior Care of MPLS, 9684 63rd Ave N., Maple Grove, MN 55369

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.

Hurry! The program ends soon, giving us time to gather and distribute the gifts to seniors. If we are going to meet and possibly exceed last year’s amazing accomplishment of delivering over 2,000 gifts, we need your help!Your participation can make a difference!

be_a_santa_to_a_senior_mplsAbout 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.

Get Involved With Home Instead’s Initiatives to Help Minnesota Seniors

Be a Santa to a SeniorBy Home Instead Senior Care

The snow is just starting to sneak up on us here in Minnesota and the Be a Santa to a Senior®  campaign is in our sights! This popular campaign that delivered more than 2,500 gifts in 2012 to local needy Minnesota seniors needs your help to provide even more gifts and companionship this year to seniors in the Minneapolis area 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.

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 in a gift bag to the location. From there, gifts need to be collected, organized, stored & distributed and that’s where we need your help! If you are a corporation, church group, school group or senior care residence who has compassionate volunteers 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, TwinWest Chamber of Commerce, Mulitband, Minneapolis Women’s Club, Park Nicollet Orthopedic Group, Sharepoint Credit Union, MN School of Business, Woodland Elementary. Please consider adding your name to this list and putting a smile on thousands of seniors’ faces.

Contact Us Today!

Join Our Book Discussion – cta-book-largeGaining the Confidence to Care

Subscribe to our blog, Like us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter to respond to discussion topics we’ll be posting over the next month. We’d love your feedback and fellow caregivers will love your ideas!

Get 3 Free Chapters now Or, Get the Entire Book for Free!

To request a free copy of the book, go to our Contact Us page, enter your information and, in the Comments section, provide your address and note that you’d like the Confidence to Care book. We’ll ship it to you for free!

What You’ll Learn from This Book

This book focuses on both memory and behavior symptoms that family caregivers often need help with, including their senior loved one’s resistance to common personal care activities. Each of these chapters offer plenty of care approaches and prevention tips, and begin with a relevant and moving real-life family caregiver story. The chapter topics include:

  • Aggression and Anger
  • Agitation and Anxiety
  • Bedtime Struggles and Sleep Problems
  • Confusion and Memory Loss
  • Delusions
  • False Accusations and Paranoia
  • Hiding/Misplacing Things/Rummaging
  • Hostility
  • Judgment (problems with decision-making and problem-solving)
  • Medication Mismanagement
  • Mood Changes
  • Repetition
  • Sexually Inappropriate Behavior
  • Social Withdrawal
  • Wandering

All profits from this book will be donated to the Home Instead Senior Care Foundation and designated for dementia-related organizations and causes.

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

minneapolis seniorminneapolis senior

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.

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.

Be a Santa to a Senior Program a HUGE Success in Minneapolis!

In 2011, 2000 gifts were given to local Minneapolis area seniors who needed holiday cheer.
We appreciate your participation!

senior careThe faces of both the seniors and the volunteers lit up as gifts were distributed to seniors in nursing homes, low income senior housing, adult day centers and personally nominated individuals. Just a few of the senior residences include the Ebenezer Tower, Friendship Center and Augustana.

home careThis huge success 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.

With this experience in our hearts, we look forward to 2012 with positivity and gratefulness.

How to Make a Senior’s Holidays Merry and Bright

senior holiday

The hustle and bustle of the holidays may leave you feeling like you need a nice vacation in a tropical place, far, far away from Minneapolis. But for a senior, quite the opposite may be true. The lack of activity and involvement for retirees who no longer need to sprint from Thanksgiving to New Years can create a completely different set of challenges. And with their relatives even busier than usual, Minnesota seniors may have even less quality time and companionship than during the rest of the year.

In this blog we’ll share some tips for reducing holidays stress for yourself and the senior in your life, and finding ways to share quality time. Our Caregivers here at Home Instead Senior Care of Minneapolis incorporate these ideas into their time with clients.

Be Aware of the Holiday Blues

Holiday time can be a time of joy and splendor, but often our expectations can be set so high that it is difficult for the actual events to measure up. Add the challenges of aging, traditions and activities that may have come and gone, the loss of friends and loved ones, and you have a recipe for “holiday blues.”

Tips and considerations:

  • Be aware of sudden changes in mood. The symptoms of an elder’s mood swings can include a lack of interest in activities, difficulty sleeping or sleeping more than usual, or a loss of appetite. Ensuring that you check in regularly is key.
  • English: this images shows the use of light bo...In addition to holiday-related sadness, seniors can experience seasonal moodiness due to less exposure to sunlight. Called “seasonal affective disorder” or “SAD”, this type of depression affects many elderly people in the fall and winter months, especially in Minnesota. Keep in mind that anything more than a mild case of the blues is a reason to get a physician’s evaluation. There may be supplements or medications that can help.
  • Encourage your senior to talk about his or her feelings and memories. Just having an outlet for chatting about those feelings might make a difference.
  • Create opportunities for silliness. Laughter really is one of the best medicines. Watching movies together like “Grumpy Old Men” (filmed right here in Minnesota) can help you to have some laughs over the foibles of aging.

Cover of "Grumpy Old Men"

Schedule Simple, Fun Visits

The simple things matter. Factoring in even a brief get together to chat or do a fun activity can make a huge difference in the life of someone with few involvements.

Tips and considerations:

  • Put a regular time on your calendar to get together with your senior throughout the holidays season.
  • Take a coffee break together.
  • Decorate a small table top tree.
  • Write and prepare holiday cards for mailing.
  • Play a game of cards or work on a puzzle.
  • Bring your senior to your Minneapolis or St. Paul home for holiday dinner.
  • Invite Mom or Dad and their home care Caregiver to your child’s holiday program or party. That way, you and your loved one will get to participate in fun events.

Doing these activities will help you to slow down too. Scheduling a short break for some fun can help you relax, catch your breath, and even create some special memories that will help you feel more grounded and less frenzied.

Arrange for Safe, Stress-Free Outings

When preparing for an outing with your senior, be sure to pack along any necessary supplies to ensure that you account for the Minnesota weather, the senior’s health neds and unexpected situations.

Tips and considerations:

  • Slow down and remember that everything takes longer during the busy holiday season when more people are on the road and in the stores.
  • Ask your home health care company if your senior has a medication regimen or needs insulin shots at meal time, then make sure that you have these items on hand, along with a list of medications and the physician’s contact information.
  • If your senior needs special items like a walker, a cane or oxygen, make sure you plan for those items and the extra time needed for getting them in and out of your vehicle.
  • Bring warm gear and an emergency kit that can help you keep the senior warm and comfortable, in the event of a car stall, flat tire or accident, while you are waiting for assistance.
  • In icy or snowy conditions, be sure to have traction devices and items like a bucket of sand and a shovel to avoid sliding or getting stuck in the snow.

Create Pleasant Conditions

If you are bringing an elderly guest to a social engagement, such as a holiday party or a weekend with relatives, think about how to create pleasant conditions for the senior, both for travel and for the destination.

  • Bring a blanket in the car for staying warm. In very cold climates car heaters often cannot create a truly comfortable temperature for a senior.
  • Prepare the host or relatives for the arrival of the senior by ensuring that there will be a quiet place to rest if the gathering of the crowd, or the exuberant sounds of small children become overwhelming.
  • If your senior guest has any dietary restrictions, make sure that there will be appropriate fare at the venue.
  • Create a comfortable place for your senior to sit, even if most people are standing and mingling.
  • Invite involvement by asking the senior to share a special story or memory with others at the gathering.
  • Check in with the senior to determine when he or she has had plenty of excitement and is ready to leave the festivities.

Christmas gifts.

Save Time

With all the cooking and preparation going on, it may seem like you need more than 24 hours a day to get it all done. Think about ways to save time and consolidate activities.

Tips and considerations:

  • As you’re cooking, double up a batch here and there. Freeze casseroles and leftovers in small portions that can be warmed for an easy nutritious meal for your senior.
  • Writing cards? When writing cards to relatives and friends known by your senior, consider adding their greeting to your cards.
  • Wrapping gifts? Think about doing so while chatting or watching a movie with your senior loved one to share some time together.
  • Do one less thing. Maybe that last run to the store can be forfeited for a little relaxation time, a phone call or visit to your senior loved one, or some time singing holiday carols together.
  • Consider hiring home respite care which allows you a “break” and ensures that your loved one is and taken care of.

Create New Memories

Lingering memories can be wonderful and sometimes painful. If old traditions no longer happen due to physical limitations or loss of certain family members, it may be time to create some new special memories.

Tips and considerations:

  • Think about ways to revive some of the past traditions in a new way. For example, if you used to have a holiday ice skating tradition, perhaps you could go and watch the ice skaters and drink hot cocoa.
  • Do some window shopping and browse holiday window displays at big department stores.
  • Take a tour of beautiful holiday lights or ask your senior’s home care provider to oblige. You can usually find a Minneapolis neighborhood or two that really puts on a show.
  • Establish a “white elephant” gift exchange over tea to make gift giving pleasurable and low-stress.

Just remember that one of the most important gifts you can give an elderly person is the gift of time. Enjoying time together, whether for an hour or an afternoon, will bring the magical light of the holiday season into a senior’s life.