Are you going to invite a hero to your home this holiday season? If you are lucky enough to have an older veteran in your family, you should definitely have them over to join in your holiday festivities. In addition to sharing the love you have for your relatives, a veteran can also teach your family many valuable lessons about love, strength, and dedication.
Some families may feel that they are not equipped to handle an older family member in their home, but the fact is that entertaining a loved one can brighten the season in many ways. Heed these tips and make the holiday a joyous experience for everyone.
Home for the Holidays (or Longer)
One of the main reasons you should bring your aging relatives home for the holidays is that this time of the year can leave many older folks feeling sad and lonely. The holidays have a way of reminding them of family and friends they have loved and lost, especially other service members. Sadness can often lead to depression, and you simply do not want to leave an aging hero alone during this time of year.
Just keep in mind that even though your relative is there living with you, they still might have those feelings of sadness. Take the time to show them love and appreciation, but don’t make it seem like a duty. Instead, include them in your traditions and talk with equal fondness of loved ones alive and lost.
What may start as a short holiday visit may suddenly become a more permanent stay as you realize the negative sides of leaving aging individuals to live alone. In many cases, the only other option is a nursing home, but these can often be expensive, with average costs often reaching over $7000 a month. Then there is the sad possibility of nursing home abuse, which plagues 30% of nursing homes and can include everything from unreasonable seclusion from others to assault and battery. Many families simply cannot stand the idea of these terrible scenarios, so they may come to your place to live for a longer duration.
Their Health is a Priority
Whether it’s just for the holidays or for the next year, you will want your relative to feel happy, healthy, and secure. In addition to loneliness, they may also be struggling with their existing conditions. For instance, many veterans deal with post-traumatic stress syndrome, which can include feelings of fear or anxiety.
When living with someone with PTSD, the trick is to provide support without being overbearing. Let them know that you are there for them and be aware of triggers that could create an episode such as particular sounds, people, or situations like being in an over-crowded area. If they do have an episode, try to remain calm, repeat to them that they are safe, and give them the space they need while also taking additional action, such as calling 911 if you feel they might injure themselves or others.
Many older folks can also often have trouble sleeping, either due to anxiety from PTSD or other issues such as snoring, osteoarthritis, or insomnia, which affects between 23-34% of older adults. To help aging family members get their sleep, you can first address any potential underlying medical issues. Then, create a comfortable sleeping atmosphere in a dark, cool, and quiet room and have them avoid devices that emit light like phones and tablets before sleep. For extra care, you can consult many of the services available for veterans, including the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Of course, it is not all doom and gloom as there is a lot of fun to have with your visitor during this wonderful season. Having a seasoned veteran around the house can be a very educational experience for children as they can learn valuable history lessons and even engage in hobbies like collecting military coins or being regaled with stories of a well-lived life. Many hobbies also help veterans deal with stress as they put their focus on a detailed activity like woodworking or learning a new language.
The holiday season provides wonderful scenery inside and out. Many physical activities are fun for the whole family and can be healthy for your older relative, like going for walks as you admire the Christmas lights or even some light sledding. If the roads are clear and the weather is nice, then going for a family bike ride is another great idea as it is not only enjoyable, but it is also a great exercise that is easy on the joints.
There are many festive places to go during the holiday season, including the theater for a fun Christmas movie or a local theater to watch a holiday play. You could also choose many fun holiday craft projects like making a wreath or your own stockings. These are fun ways to spend an afternoon, and the final product will be one that your older relative will look at fondly for years to come as they remember the great times they had with their family.
Having your older veteran family member over for the holidays is a wonderful idea that your clan will truly enjoy. Follow the tips discussed here, and the experience can be fun and easygoing.