Senior Caregivers: Safely Take Care of Elders During the Holidays
The Holiday Season is here! As a seasoned caregiver, you may be a pro at handling the winter months and know exactly how to care for your clients. However, you may have just graduated from the Certified Home Health Aide Program through the NJ Caregiver Academy and not know what to expect. Either way, here is a short blog highlighting some safety tips to keep in mind when providing care to senior citizens.
Shovel Snow & Salt Driveway:
Snow and ice can pose a severe hazard to elders in the wintertime. A slip and fall can lead to serious complications like broken bones or a concussion. If you are a caregiver, it is wise to shovel all snow from walkways and driveways as well as lay down salt. This will make it safer for the senior to leave and return to their house. It also keeps you safe so that you can do your job!
Holiday Decor Safety Precautions:
Who doesn’t love a good Christmas tree?! While Christmas trees are a key holiday staple, they also pose a fire hazard. If not watered properly, the dry needles can catch on fire especially if they’ve been decorated with lights or other electrical details. If my client insists on a genuine Christmas tree, I take it upon myself to equip them with a watering can that they can use and set a reminder on their calendar to water the tree every day. It can be difficult for seniors to bend far enough to water underneath the tree so I suggest a watering can with a long spout or tabletop tree for easier access. A fake tree, although not as authentic, is the safer option. All you will need to do is help set it up. Engaging the senior in decorating is a great bonding experience and throw on some Christmas tunes while you’re at it!
Have a Plan For Winter Emergencies:
Depending on your schedule and client’s needs, you may or may not be visiting everyone daily. It is important to have a plan in action that both you and the individual receiving care have constructed in case of an emergency. A snowstorm can lead to a power outage and leave an elderly person in freezing temperatures. It can also leave them trapped inside their house if the snow buildup prevents them from opening their door or leaving their driveway. Construct a plan together with a list of contacts in case of an emergency so that the senior will feel safe and not worrisome if the weather gets out of hand.
Helping with Isolation
While making sure your client is healthy and safe, it is important not to neglect their happiness. Many aging seniors spend the holidays alone and will not get to see any family whether it be to loss of loved ones or travel issues. For some of my clients, I may be the only person they see the entire month, not including doctors, etc. I can’t imagine being away from my family so after I assess their situation I generally do the following:
If they have family, but their health prevents them from traveling. I show them how to use a webcam, Skype, or Facetime so that they can see their family face-to-face. If they do not have access to a computer, I have even used my personal phone or laptop for a quick Facetime call to check in. Phone calls are great, but face-to-face contact lifts their spirits immensely.
If they are alone with no close relatives, I like to spend some time doing fun Christmas activities with them to boost their spirits. See if they have any holiday traditions from when they were growing up and pull out the pictures to reminisce about old times! Some fun and easy activities that both you and your client can enjoy are:
Baking a gingerbread house
Visiting a holiday craft fair (health permitting)
Create a manger scene
Visit department store displays (health permitting)
My experiences in caregiving through the winter months have been the most rewarding thus far. Even though it may seem like a greater challenge as the weather grows cold, knowing that I am the reason that someone is safe, healthy, and happy, is greater than any physical present I could receive. If you are interested in becoming a caregiver and making a difference in someone’s life, visit The New Jersey Caregiver Academy to jumpstart your caregiving career. We have programs to help you get certified in the state of New Jersey with online class options that fit anyone’s schedule! Call now at (609) 416-2442 to speak to a representative today!