Pull out the sugar plums and figgy pudding: the holidays are here! Many of us have those extra special, once-a-year recipes that simply must be prepared and shared, whether it’s Grandma’s prize-winning roast goose, Aunt Ethel’s pecan pie, or the extended family’s homemade cookie swap. And while these delicacies are certainly a delight, for those struggling with chronic disease management, overdoing them can be dangerous.
Older adults with chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis or other autoimmune disorders may face challenges throughout the year with sticking to a prescribed dietary plan and healthy activity level, and during the holiday season, those struggles can be exacerbated. It’s especially difficult when attending parties and other festive functions to avoid certain foods or feel the need to make special requests, or to have to cut visits short due to pain or fatigue from the disease.
According to Patricia Fennell, MSW, LCSW-R, “Holidays act like a lightning rod where all the physical and social concerns around chronic illness get really highlighted.”
So what’s the best way to find balance between chronic disease management and holiday enjoyment? These tips can help:
- Plan in advance. Let family members and friends know upfront about any limitations your senior loved one may be facing when planning a get-together – such as the need to keep the visit short if symptoms of the disease are flaring, or any particular food requirements. Packing a few snacks in adherence to the senior’s dietary plan is always a good idea to ensure he or she has a healthy option available.
- Keep outings low-key. Trying to cram in a full day of holiday shopping at the mall on a busy Saturday afternoon may be more than a senior with a chronic disease can muster. Picking an off-time for shopping together, minimizing purchases and stopping for frequent breaks will make for a more successful outing.
- Reduce stress. The higher levels of stress inherent with the holiday season can have a profound effect on older adults with chronic diseases. Be sure to set aside plenty of time for relaxing activities, such as stretching out with a good book and a cup of herbal tea, enjoying a board game together, or taking an afternoon nap.
At Nightingale Homecare, our RN-managed care always includes careful attention to the needs of those with chronic diseases through our Pathlink Chronic Disease Management program. We can help seniors and their families enjoy the holiday season to the fullest without compromising their health. Contact us to learn more about our expert Phoenix senior care and chronic disease management services!