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Comfort Keepers Evansville Podcast Episode 8: Supporting Seniors Emotional Well-Being During the Holidays

Comfort Keepers In-Home Care in Evansville, Indiana.

Supporting Seniors' Emotional Well-Being During the Holidays

The holiday season is often filled with joy and celebrations, but for many seniors, it can also be a period of loneliness and nostalgia. In the Comfort Keepers Evansville podcast, Kristi Gurule delves into the complex emotions that the elderly may experience during these festive times. With an emphasis on empathy and tradition, the episode explores the unseen side of senior emotional health and offers insights into how we can support our aging loved ones.

During the holidays, while many of us are caught up in the excitement of festivities, it's important to recognize that not everyone shares the same experience. For some seniors, the holiday season can evoke feelings of sadness and loss, especially if they're spending it away from family or grieving the absence of a loved one. Kristi Gurule, with her profound understanding of elderly care, shares poignant anecdotes and emphasizes the importance of engagement and tradition in lifting the spirits of the elderly.

One of the key messages of the podcast is the power of simple activities to reignite joy. Baking cookies, crafting decorations, or decorating stockings can provide not only a sense of participation but also a bridge to cherished memories. These activities are not just about keeping busy; they're about creating meaningful connections and reinforcing the value of our elders in our lives.

The podcast also addresses the practical aspects of caring for seniors during the holidays. It encourages listeners to look beyond just providing company and to find creative ways to involve the elderly in holiday preparations and celebrations. Whether it's through technology, such as video calls and automated FaceTime platforms, or through sending handmade cards and letters, there are numerous ways to show seniors that they are thought of and loved.

Moreover, the episode doesn't shy away from discussing the challenges faced by families who might not be able to be physically present with their elderly loved ones. It suggests coordinating with local support groups, schools, and church organizations to ensure that no senior feels forgotten during this time of year. The power of community effort is highlighted as a means to extend warmth and companionship to those who might otherwise spend the holidays in solitude.

As Kristi and her host, Jeremy Wolf, discuss, the holiday season is also an opportune time for families to assess the wellbeing of their elderly relatives. Observing changes in their lifestyle or mood can prompt important conversations about seeking additional help or making arrangements to ensure their safety and comfort.

The episode concludes with a reminder that the holiday season is about inclusivity and caring for one another. It's about reaching out and ensuring that everyone, especially the most vulnerable among us, feels the warmth and joy of the season.

This podcast episode is a gentle nudge to remember the elderly during the holidays, to weave them into our celebrations, and to honor them with empathy and love. It's a love letter to our seniors and a call to action for us all to be more mindful and proactive in supporting their emotional wellbeing during a time that can be bittersweet.

Podcast Episode 8 Transcript

Speaker 1 Announcement00:01

Welcome to the Comfort Keepers Evansville podcast, where we elevate the human spirit. Here's your host, Kristi Gurule.

Jeremy Co-host00:11

Hello everyone and welcome back to another episode of the Comfort Keepers Davie podcast. I'm your co-host, Jeremy Wolf, and I'm joined by your host, Kristi Gurule. Kristi, so nice seeing you again. It's been. We were just talking, it's been a minute, as they say.

Kristi Host00:27

It has been a minute. It's been busy, it's been busy here and everywhere. So, and now here we are at the holidays.

Jeremy Co-host00:34

Yeah, kind of crept up on us, didn't it? It seems like I don't know. The older I get, the years just go quicker and quicker and quicker.

Kristi Host00:42

That's the wisdom that was always passed down to me is that when you're young, the days are long, and the older you get, the shorter they become, and the more kids you have, the faster they also go. And that's, that's seriously the boat. That's, it's true.

Jeremy Co-host00:55

Yeah, it truly is a blur. So, with the holidays approaching, I thought it might be, or you thought it might be appropriate, to talk a little bit about something that probably isn't on a lot of people's radar, because with the holidays coming, a lot of people are in good spirits, you know. You know they're with family and friends, they're celebrating. But there's another side of that where you have the elder community that may not have a lot of family or maybe they lost somebody close to them and they're feeling a little depressed over the holidays and they're feeling a little blue. I thought what a fitting time for you to talk a little bit about that and how Comfort Keepers kind of fits into that equation, and maybe give some tips and advice for those out there that are a little down, so that they could elevate and share their holiday season in a positive direction.

Kristi Host01:44

It's. It's so true because, like you said, holidays, most people are very excited to get together. The music, the I mean maybe not Florida, change of seasons, but you've got lights outside. Everything is exciting.

01:58

And what I find, and what my team finds, is that this is the time of year where we might see a shift in some of our clients' moods. And if you dig a little bit deeper, what you see is you see an individual who's lived a lovely, long life and they have family that spread out through the state or the United States, so they don't have that connectivity that they've had and they want to reminisce about traditions and definitely, Christmas has passed and sometimes, when we talk about things that we love and we reminisce, sometimes it does, you know, it invokes emotions that are Christmas sad too. So, you know, we have individuals who will maybe be spending their first Christmas without a loved one. That's a hard conversation and, as much as you want to be the words of encouragement, it's hard to exactly put yourself in that, in that situation, if you've not experienced it. So, this is where our caregivers, highly trained and interviewed from the very beginning on empathy, being able to listen, to encourage positivity out of a conversation that might tend to become woe is me.

03:12

We find that sometimes it is the smallest little Christmas activities that can re spark joy. So, we may not think about baking cookies with an elder, we may think of taking them cookies, we may think of bringing them dinner, but actually doing something with them hands on, while talking about, you know, holidays past, or whatever their celebrations and traditions have been, is such a way to elevate the human spirit. So, we just recently did a stocking decorating event and I haven't decorated stockings for a long time and I know children love to decorate stockings and ornaments, but I can't tell you how much joy came out of our clients who are decorating the stockings and the same thing. I don't even have a place to put the stocking, but doesn't matter.

Jeremy Co-host04:02

I'm going to make this.

Kristi Host04:03

It's fun. It reminds me of when we used to have this or when my children did this, and that's what it's all about. So, it's thinking outside of the box and not just your standard. Let's get together for food and then really that brings up. The other side of this, too, is that there are plenty of people that spend the holidays by themselves, and so we So, spend our holiday, myself and my family all together.

04:31

But it is so important to reach out, to make that phone call to tell somebody Merry Christmas and just to tell them that you're thinking about them. I had a gentleman call the other day and he thanked me for a holiday card and all of our holiday cards. They're still handwritten because I believe in that, and my hands are all cramped at the very end. But there's something very special about receiving something in the mail that's not an ad, that's not a bill, that's not, you know, junk mail, but something that's for them. And he called and he was crying and he said you know what? I've been so depressed and I slept with that card. I slept with it, I put it on my pillow because it meant so much to me to know that somebody took the time To tell me Merry Christmas. I didn't think that it would have that impact, because I know powerful stuff.

Jeremy Co-host05:21

So, I get all warm and fuzzy inside and I get a little bit teary because it is. It is moving, it is emotional.

Kristi Host05:27

It is. It's. It is emotional, but it's just to paint the bigger picture of what it is that our mission is in the lives of the people that we get to become a part of and they become a part of us. We take it so seriously, so much further than these are the services we provide. It is really that relationship, not to replace anybody else in the family, but to truly be there when the others cannot be. So, what would you say?

Jeremy Co-host05:54

Along the lines of what you just recommended writing a letter or doing these certain activities to make somebody feel that they are being thought about. Maybe for a family that obviously the ideal situation would be to spend time together as a family, and if you have an elderly loved one that's in another state, either bring them to your state or travel to them. For those that can't do that and elderly maybe they are unable to even, you know, hire a company like yours, resources are kind of scarce. What are some other things that can be done? I'm thinking out loud here Like, if you have kids, make a video about and elderly or.

06:30

FaceTime. Maybe some local support groups or organizations that you can coordinate with, to what are some thoughts and ideas for folks out there that are in that situation.

Kristi Host06:40

So, I've seen a lot of really creative things. I think the easiest thing that most people will go to is technology. So, some of our elderly aren't as technologically inclined, maybe not even having the So, system in place to FaceTime. But there's so many new products on the market too that are specifically geared for your elderly loved ones to like automatically answer in the FaceTime mode on this platform. So, I think anytime you can make eye contact with someone that says so much more because you can read that than just hearing it over the phone. So that would be my first recommendation.

07:17

Now I'm all about the handmade anything because it's sweet and if there are children that are, you know, around available, this is a great opportunity to have something created and sent in the mail Again just to be able to have it in your home. There are local schools. There are local schools everywhere that would love to do cards for elderly individuals in their home or in facilities. Even my children even took part in a big group effort and they all created Christmas cards for a local, a local nursing home. So again, anytime there's children involved, I feel like there's just an instant spark of happiness.

07:59

Um, you can go one step further. There are church groups that are in so many communities that every year want to do different things. And for a family to call an organization such as a church and say I have a shut-in, really, truly, that's what it would be. I have a family member, I can't make it there, they don't have anybody else. What can you help me with? And I've seen churches step up to bring them into a Christmas dinner or service, which is just so kind, so extra. But then I've also had church groups in the past who want to go and carol, and that's a very fun, exciting experience too. So, to open your door and have carolers there, sent on behalf of your family, to share the love of Christmas with you. So, there are a lot of options.

Jeremy Co-host08:47

All good ideas and good tips, because I'm just thinking in terms of, we talked about this in another episode about how the elderly generations are typically tend to be more stubborn than most, and when it comes to being alone and being miserable or motivating and going out and finding something to do, they'll typically opt to stay at home and just sit there and be miserable. So, if you can offer some assistance with that, it's definitely very positive and helpful for sure.

Kristi Host09:17

I just it's honestly constant contact. That's really what it is. So sometimes you have to just keep reintroducing, reintroducing the idea of there being somebody coming, whether it's from an agency such as myself or just somebody in the neighborhood. There's a lot of ways to try to get your loved one encouraged to leave their home for their own good, and really, they just need to do it once or twice and they realize how much better they feel.

Jeremy Co-host09:45

Yeah, for sure, for sure. But everybody out there listening. You hear that If you can make sure you get your elderly loved ones close to home for the holidays, if possible, obviously that's the most optimal play. But if you can, if you have kids, and get them involved, make sure they call grandma and grandpa and spread the love and spread the joy. Let's make everybody happy and healthy this holiday season.

Kristi Host10:08

Yes, yes, absolutely.

Jeremy Co-host10:11

Anything else you'd like to share before we close up here?

Kristi Host10:15

You know, I think the other thing is for the families who do have the opportunity to be around their family, their elderly loved ones, and if it is just around the holidays, this is also a great opportunity to truly look at the big picture of how your loved one is doing in their home, noticing if there's anything that seems a little off this Christmas than last Christmas. Or the last time that you were in their home it was Thanksgiving, that was just weeks ago, but if it was all the way back in the summer and you see a significant change, it's a good time to also start having the conversation of let's get some extra help in here. So, I receive a lot of phone calls after the holidays along those lines, and that's completely fine to start talking about it.

Jeremy Co-host10:57

Yeah, definitely, as we talked about before, that is a difficult conversation to have, and the earlier you could have it and the more seeds you could plant along the way and prepare for it, obviously the better. So, Kristi, thanks for your insights and wisdom. Always a pleasure. Thank you, yeah, and we'll wish you a wonderful holiday season, for you and your family alike, and to our listeners. Thanks for tuning in. You all also have a wonderful holiday and we will catch you after the new year.

Kristi Host11:26

Merry Christmas.

Jeremy Co-host11:27

Merry Christmas, everyone Take care.

Speaker 1 Announcement11:31

Thank you for listening to the Comfort Keepers Evansville podcast. For more information, visit ComfortKeepers.com or call (812) 370-4956.