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Peninsula Home Care Helps Prepare Families for Elderly Holiday – Delaware

Published on - December 7, 2015

SEAFORD, DE – Holidays can be a magical time for gathering with family and friends – but for the elderly and their hosts, it can be stressful as well. Often at gatherings, the older person is in unfamiliar surroundings; the hosts are unsure of how to handle certain situations. And all of it can be compounded if the older person has recently lost a spouse, been ill, is recovering from an injury or is suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Fortunately, good preparation can both enable older guests to have the best possible holiday experience and lessen the stress on the hosts.

First, families should take into consideration that family celebrations can be over-stimulating for senior relatives.

“If your loved one is frail or suffers from memory loss, they may become overwhelmed at a large, loud and boisterous gathering. They might also be concerned about how they will physically get to your home, or worry that they have to remember everyone’s name and life situation,” said Robyn Coughenour, Branch Director Peninsula Home Care at Nanticoke. “Consider planning a smaller, more intimate meal with immediate family. It can be easier on the grandparent or great-grandparent and more enjoyable and less stressful for everyone.”

Next, focus on the safety of the location where the gathering will take place. Preventing slips, falls and embarrassment is very important:

  • Remove all throw rugs and loose electrical cords to prevent trips and slips
  • Install a temporary raised toilet seat for the primary bathroom (can be rented from a medical home supply store)
  • For someone in a wheelchair, consider renting a ramp for the day or weekend
  • For overnight stays, select a room on the first floor and close to a bathroom
  • Place a non-slip mat and suction grab bar in the bathtub or shower
  • Use nightlights in the hallways so they can get around safely at night

Then, time the gathering during hours the elderly family member is most awake. This will allow them to engage with the family and be a part of the holiday celebration.

Some other factors to consider when welcoming an elderly family member or friend into the home for the holidays or anytime of the year include:

  • Serve at least some foods geared the guests’ special dietary needs (for example, low-sodium, low-fat, low-sugar and/or not heavily spiced). Consider foods that are easy to chew and/or won’t pose a risk for choking.
  • Have an updated list with physician’s contact info and current medications – and dosing schedule – before they arrive.
  • Have a plan just in case an emergency occurs. Designate a family member to refrain from drinking alcohol so someone will be able to drive them to the Emergency Room is necessary or call 911 and communicate the problem effectively.

For more information on home and family preparation for elderly holiday visitors, call any PHC office or visit the website (www.peninsulahomecare.com).

Salisbury, MD – 410/543-7550
Ocean Pines, MD – 410-208-4828
Seaford, DE – 302-629-4914


About Peninsula Home Care

Providing skilled nursing, physical, occupational and speech therapy for more than 30 years, Peninsula Home Care ensures that all patients are involved in their plan of care and strives to give them every opportunity to maintain their independence in the home. The agency has served more than 50,000 patients in Wicomico, Worcester and Somerset counties in Maryland and Sussex and Kent counties in Delaware. In 2017, PHC and PHCN were designated as Preferred Home Care Provider by Peninsula Regional Medical Center and Nanticoke Health Services.

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Serving Sussex County & Lower Kent Counties in Delaware and Wicomico, Worcester & Somerset Counties in Maryland

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