Seniors face increased health risks from illness and loneliness during the holidays. Here's what you can do about it. 

GVCSS's Director of Home Care Maria Moeller, RN, explains that “the holidays happen during a time when the elderly experience higher rates of illness from exposure to the flu virus. They have weakened immune systems and don’t bounce back quickly. In some cases, it can be fatal.”

She says that seniors also are at an increased risk for loneliness and depression if they are living alone: “the holiday season is a time when we are expected to be enjoying ourselves. It can be an especially lonely time for seniors who are on their own.”

That's why GVCSS encourages families to maintain connections with older relatives and friends. It’s important to make an extra effort, from a regular phone call to check on how they’re doing, to visiting them and having a good chat.

If you observe any of the following signs in an aging loved one, speak to their doctor. Also, note that specific flu vaccines are now available for those aged 65+. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

8 Signs to Look For in Elderly Loved Ones: 

  1. Decreased appetite
  2. Lack of interest in going out due to cold or rainy weather
  3. Frequency of cold symptoms
  4. Change in moods
  5. Change in sleeping pattern: either not able to get enough sleep or sleeping more than usual
  6. Frequent fall episodes due to less daylight and lack of exercise/mobility during the cold weather
  7. Increased desire to see family members
  8. Body aches and fatigue

6 Safety Tips When Visiting Seniors:

  1. Be sure walkways are safe
  2. Look at the thermostat – turn it up if necessary
  3. Check fridge and cupboards for food and fluids
  4. See if they are taking medications as prescribed – how many are left?
  5. Ensure they have enough blankets, warm clothing, and socks
  6. Discourage use of small heaters (for risk of fire).

Remember to remind seniors in your life that they are important to you and show them you are thinking of them during these times. It can go a long way towards making them feel like respected and valuable members of the family and society.

If you have questions about helping an aging loved one stay independent, healthy and safe at home, please contact us today. You can also learn more about our home care services here