Near Normal Holiday Season? Caregivers Become Family for Those Who Receive Long-Term Health Care

Many people are already planning for a near-normal holiday season. However, the holidays can still be lonely and isolating for older adults who need long-term health care. Caregivers can become like family making it more merry and joyful.

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Near Normal Holiday Season? Caregivers Become Family for Those Who Receive Long-Term Health Care
7 Min Read October 11th, 2022 Updated:November 21st, 2023

As the holiday spirit beckons, the 2023 holiday season seems poised to feel more normal than in recent years, closer to the pre-COVID-19 era. This shift can be attributed to a combination of factors:


Firstly, there's a pent-up demand for holiday festivities. After years of pandemic-induced restraint, many are eager to reconnect with loved ones and indulge in more traditional holiday celebrations. 


Secondly, the easing of COVID-19 restrictions across various countries and jurisdictions has facilitated this. The lifting of travel bans, capacity limits, and mask mandates has made it more feasible and attractive for people to travel and gather for the holidays.


However, a note of caution remains as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and the flu season arrives. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the 2023 flu season is expected to be moderate. 


As of October 3, 2023, the CDC has recorded approximately 2.2 million flu cases in the United States, resulting in 35,000 hospitalizations and 1,200 deaths.


Further, from October 1 through November 11, 2023, the CDC estimates there have been 1.6 million flu illnesses, 770,000 medical visits due to the flu, 17,000 hospitalizations, and 1,500 deaths related to the flu. This serves as a reminder of the ongoing need for vigilance and health precautions during the festive period.

The holiday season can bring joy and pleasant thoughts about family. For older adults, this can be even more important. The CDC says that the social isolation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic was associated with a 50% percent increased risk of dementia. There was even an increase in other health problems resulting in a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke. 

Plus, spending the holidays alone or away from close friends and family can increase depression and sadness. Individuals living in long-term care facilities or receiving in-home care can be susceptible to depression when they spend the holiday season alone or without close loved ones. 

Struggling During the Holiday Season

The fact is some older adults struggle during the holiday season, and those issues have increased since COVID-19. An increased sense of loneliness takes the cheer out of the holidays. Plus, the holidays have always reminded older adults of lost loved ones. Plus, as health declines, the holidays can remind someone of new illnesses that limit their mobility or ability to enjoy the holiday season.

The right caregiver can make all the difference for an older adult, especially during the holiday season.

Professional home care providers are aware that the holidays can not only bring joy but can bring sadness as well. Adult children may live afar or, for other reasons, are not spending holiday time with an older parent or family member. These home care providers are usually the first ones to notice mood changes in the care recipient. 

Christina Ram, the franchise owner of Amada Senior Care in Tucson, AZ, says that quality home care providers can play an essential role in providing additional compassion, love, and support for the elderly during the holiday season. 

Christina Ram

We are acutely aware of the distinct individual needs of individuals we care for daily. We understand the holidays may provoke very different feelings in each senior; some may thoroughly enjoy this time of year, which we can help embellish and enliven their environment with their favorite pastimes and traditions.

Not Everyone is Happy and Joyful

Ram says loneliness is a big concern, especially during the holiday season when everyone is expected to be happy and joyful. She says some care recipients may feel lonely and alone during the holidays.

This is an opportunity to communicate and learn more about how we may support care recipients during this time. The caregiver can provide travel support if the care recipient is physically able and wants to visit family.

Ram explains that a caregiver may also reach out to the family about visiting their loved one or scheduling an online video meeting so the senior can feel more connected to the family. 

Some older adults don't have family members to support them during the holidays. This presents a more significant challenge for care providers to identify anything that brings back pleasant memories.

Ram says compassionate and engaging conversation often leads to discovering those memories. Music, decorating, baking, crafting, and holiday trivia reenergize a care recipient and get them in the holiday mood. 

It takes a special person who can really empathize with the aging adult—someone who can observe, listen, and feel what that senior is feeling. With that as the basis of the recipe, the caregiver adds energy and enthusiasm to the mix to enrich the senior's life with old and, maybe, new ways to celebrate the holiday season.

Holidays Have Religious Meaning for Many

The holidays, for many people, have religious significance. A Pew Research study revealed that 65% of adults ages 65 and older said that religion is very important to their life, with another 25% saying it was somewhat important. 

Some care recipients might be able to go to church or synagogue. Sometimes, a priest, minister, rabbi, or other religious may be able to visit older adults at home or even in a long-term care facility. Making those arrangements can benefit the care recipient and help put more meaning into the holiday season. 

Places of faith, like churches, temples, and mosques, bring like-minded people together to share and celebrate. Older adults will often find comfort if they can go to a religious service during the holiday season. There are often activities available for older adults that are available.

Caregivers or family members, if available, should encourage them to attend and join them. Area senior centers and other community groups also have get-togethers throughout the year, but during the holidays, it can bring more fun and joy to the care recipient.

While Christmas is the big holiday following Thanksgiving, several religions share this time of year. These include Hanukkah, Diwali, and Kwanzaa.

Don't Forego Decorating

Older adults who live alone may feel they shouldn't bother decorating, especially if they have limited guests other than the caregiver. The results can be added sadness.

It is hard to ignore the holiday season. You see it all over the TV. When the senior gets out, they will see the "holiday spirit" wherever they go. Encourage your loved one to decorate their home. If the family cannot come by to help decorate, the caregiver will probably be more than willing to help.

Many caregivers, without being asked, will encourage the care recipient to get out the holiday decorations to make the home as festive as possible to avoid added depression during the holiday season.

Don’t Ignore COVID-19 During Holiday Season

As Thanksgiving approaches, families, friends, and their caregivers should consider how older loved ones will spend the holiday leading up to Christmas and New Year's. Keep in mind that even though the COVID-19 virus crisis has lessened, older adults and those with pre-existing health conditions are vulnerable to the virus and other illnesses. 

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra says that the updated COVID-19 and flu vaccines are essential. 

COVID-19 vaccines have brought us through the worst of the pandemic – saving millions of lives, keeping countless people out of the hospital, and providing peace of mind for the country.

Older adults and those with pre-existing health problems should be vaccinated, and it is even more important if they will be visiting people or going to holiday parties or religious services during the holiday season. Caregivers and long-term care facilities will usually keep up with vaccinations. 

Seniors want to be as normal as possible, especially during the holiday season when memories of past holidays are front and center. Quality caregivers become friends and companions since they spend more time with the care recipient than anyone else. In a way, the caregiver becomes part of the extended family. This bond will lead to a better quality of life for an older adult with ongoing chronic health problems.

Finding Quality Care for a Loved One

Does your loved one have a caregiver or live in a long-term care facility? Are you happy with the quality of care they are providing? The right person or facility can make a huge difference for your loved one.

Long-Term Care Insurance claims increase right after the holiday season, and so do requests for in-home caregivers and facility admissions. When the family sees how their older loved one is doing, they often discover they need help and assistance.

Not all caregivers are good at their job. Not all assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and their staff are caring and companionate. Finding the right caregiver or facility for a loved one will significantly improve the quality of life for an older adult with chronic health or aging issues.

Those with Long-Term Care Insurance will have the resources to pay for their choice of quality care options, including in-home care. Many LTC policies include case management to help the family develop an appropriate care plan and find quality caregivers and facilities. 

These LTC NEWS Guides are a good resource when you need to find quality long-term health care for a loved one:

Understand that it can be lonely during the holiday season. For someone older or with chronic health problems, this loneliness is more significant and can complicate health problems. Don't forget about the elderly, including neighbors, during the holiday season.

Have You Thought About Your Future Aging?

The holidays are also an excellent time to review your retirement planning, including your plan to address the costs and burdens of your future aging.

Aging has consequences on your family and finances. Make it easier on your loved ones and ensure quality caregivers by planning ahead of time.

Many people include a Long-Term Care Insurance policy in their retirement plan. These policies provide tax-free benefits to access quality care options. The benefits will protect your 401(k) and other assets and ease family stress. Most people obtain coverage in their 50s.

Long-Term Care Insurance is medically underwritten, and every insurance company has its own rules. Most people obtain coverage in their 50s when premiums are much lower, and their health is usually much better and stable.

Long-Term Care Insurance specialist will help match you with the right insurance company based on several factors, including your age, health, family history, and more. Most specialists work with top companies, so they can provide you with accurate quotes from all the top insurance companies. Insurance rates are regulated. Insurance companies must file their products and pricing with each state's insurance department before being allowed to offer their products to the public. 

The holidays can be a happy time. Friends, family, and caregivers can make it better for an older adult and less depressing.

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About the Author

Linda Kople is a freelance writer with a personal family history in long-term care. She specializes in aging-related topics such as caregiving, health, and retirement planning. Her experiences and interests drive her to explore and write about the various aspects of aging and health issues.

LTC News Contributor Linda Kople

Linda Kople

Contributor since October 31st, 2017

Editor's Note

As you navigate the path toward retirement, it's vital to look beyond the horizon of leisure and travel and consider the realities of aging and long-term care. Chronic illnesses, mobility issues, accidents, and conditions like dementia can shift the landscape of your golden years, making daily tasks and self-care challenging. The cost of long-term care can be staggering, quickly eroding savings and investments you've dedicated a lifetime to accumulate.

You should integrate long-term care into your retirement plan, acknowledging that the need for assistance or supervision with everyday activities is not just a possibility but a common aspect of aging. Medicare may cover only a fraction of these expenses and only under specific conditions, leaving a significant financial gap. Planning ahead with options like Long-Term Care Insurance will safeguard your nest egg and provide the necessary support without overburdening your family or compromising your quality of life.

Consider this: the need for long-term care is often not a brief period at life's end but can span years. This care can be provided at home, in an assisted living facility, or in a nursing home, each with varying costs and considerations. 

·        LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator - Find Care Cost Where You Live

By addressing these needs in your retirement planning, you ensure that choices about your care remain in your hands, not dictated by circumstances. You have the power to access your choice of quality care in the setting you desire so you can shape your future comfort and dignity, but it requires action now—because when it comes to long-term care, hoping for the best without planning for it is a risky strategy.

Every insurance company has its specific underwriting standards that can vary widely - What Is Underwriting In Long-Term Care Insurance?

Your reasonably good health gives you the ability to plan effectively. Most people get coverage in their 40s or 50s, although if you have fairly good health, you can find options in your 60s and beyond. 

Advantages of an LTC Insurance Specialist's Expertise

Navigating the landscape of Long-Term Care Insurance can be daunting, with many options and complex underwriting processes. This is where the expertise of a qualified Long-Term Care Insurance specialist becomes invaluable. They bring a nuanced understanding of how different insurance companies evaluate risk and set premiums, allowing them to tailor coverage that aligns with your unique needs—taking into account your age, health, and financial objectives. 

A specialist will shop at all the top-rated insurance companies and provide you with accurate LTC Insurance quotes.

Furthermore, a Long-Term Care Insurance specialist offers benefits that a general insurance agent or financial advisor might not be equipped to provide. Here are key reasons why a specialist is the preferred choice for your Long-Term Care Insurance needs:

  • Access to Multiple Top Insurers: They usually represent the top insurance companies, not just a select few.
  • Comprehensive Policy Options: Experts in all types of policies—traditional plans, including partnership-certified policies; hybrid policies that offer death benefits; and short-term cash indemnity policies with broader underwriting rules.
  • Certified Expertise: Many hold a Certified in Long-Term Care (CLTC) designation, signifying specialized training and knowledge in long-term care planning.
  • In-Depth Underwriting Knowledge: Proficient in the full spectrum of underwriting rules, which can vary widely among insurers.
  • Regulatory Insight: They're well-versed in both state and federal regulations, which can impact policy details and consumer protection.
  • Claims Experience: Their experience at the claims level means they understand how policies are actually implemented, providing practical insights that go beyond the policy sale.

Choosing a specialist who embodies this wealth of knowledge and experience will guide you toward making an informed decision, ensuring you receive the coverage when it matters most.

·        Find a Qualified, Independent LTC Insurance Specialist

Discover Long-Term Care Planning Tools at LTC NEWS Resource's Hub

At LTC NEWS, a wealth of tools and resources awaits to guide you through the intricacies of long-term care planning. You can access an array of helpful features, including the innovative Cost of Long-Term Care Calculator, which helps you estimate future long-term care expenses across different settings and regions. 

Here are a few of the resources available on LTC NEWS:

Finding Quality Care for Mom or Dad

LTC NEWS offers help for you and your family in many ways. The LTC NEWS Caregiver Directory is an excellent resource where you can find the most comprehensive directory of all types of long-term care services no matter where your loved one lives - Long-Term Care Services Directory | Find Care Near You.

If your loved one has an LTC Insurance policy, that will open the door to many quality care options, as one of the first questions most home health agencies and long-term care facilities will ask you is if the care recipient has an LTC policy.

Be sure to use the benefits from a loved one's LTC policy; trying to save them for later is not a good approach since access to quality care improves a person's quality of life immediately.

LTC NEWS has combined efforts with Amada Senior Care, a leading in-home health care agency with locations throughout the country, to help you process a claim from any LTC Insurance policy.

There is no cost or obligation for this service - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim

If they don't have an LTC policy, Amada can still help develop a plan of care and provide you with many affordable in-home care options. 

Learn more now - Find Quality In-Home Care.

These four LTC NEWS guides will assist you in trying to find appropriate long-term health care services for a loved one:

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