The holidays are purported to be the most wonderful time of the year. There are gifts to give, presents to open, and meals to share with family and friends. Neighbors decorate their homes with lights and inflatable snowmen. Towns big and small put up their trees and turn on their lights to officially mark the holiday season.
It can be magical, but for some older adults, the holidays bring on feelings of sadness. They may have recently lost a friend or spouse and are having difficulty coping with being alone. Older adults with mobility issues or conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia can feel isolated when everyone’s getting together for celebrations and family visits.
That’s why it’s important to help the loved one in your life feel included and participate in the festivities in whatever way they can. For tips on how to make the holidays merry and bright for older family members, read on.
How do they want to celebrate this holiday season?
Talk with older family members about what activities they want to join in. If they’ve been the host and CEO in previous years, discuss which family meals and traditions they’d like someone else to assume. Explain that while they’re more than welcome to participate in activities, you don’t expect them to attend them all.
Focus on activities they want to do the most.
Are there family traditions they want to participate in? Are holiday music performances and religious services most meaningful? Is cookie baking a highlight? Is there a holiday movie they love watching? Even if they just want to observe the festivities, spending time with family members will help them feel included in the spirit of the season.
Deck the halls together.
Are there treasured holiday decorations still in storage? Talk about each piece as you get it out, and ask your loved one where they’d prefer certain pieces to be displayed. You could also recruit younger family members to help make Christmas ornaments or wreaths. If your loved one needs help with holiday cards or shopping, volunteer to help out.
Set the mood.
While you’re baking cookies or decorating the house, put on some happy holiday hits to get your loved one in the festive spirit. Maybe make eggnog or hot chocolate while decorating, cooking or reminiscing together. Even small gestures can add cheer to the holidays for seniors.
Walk down memory lane.
To help alleviate feelings of sadness during the holidays, activities such as watching home movies together or looking through old photos as a group can be a nice way to remember those times as a family. Reminiscing can be an enjoyable activity for everyone and a valuable way of sharing memories and family history with younger generations.
Book a spa treatment.
Treat your loved one to a spa day. Paint their nails, get their hair done, do their makeup, or pull out their favorite fancy attire if you’re doing the pampering at home. If your loved one lives in a senior living community or doesn’t get out much, this can be a refreshing change of pace and help them look and feel their best for the holidays.
Make their favorite holiday recipe.
If there’s a favorite family dish your loved one grew up eating or always served this time of year, put on your apron and get cooking. Making their favorite foods or treats can trigger memories of past events, even in people with dementia. It brings them back to something they likely remember and love.
Enjoy the moment.
Celebrating holidays with senior family members can be emotional and stressful. But don’t let your anxiety take away from your time together and the opportunity to step out of the regular pace of life. While you may worry about your loved one’s age, declining health or memory loss, this is the perfect time to reconnect and enjoy being together now.
Discover how we can help your loved one make the most of life.
We start by building a personal relationship with each resident so we can create meaningful experiences based on the personal history of each person entrusted to our care. It’s an approach we call The Artis Way.
At Artis Senior Living, our personalized approach helps residents engage and connect with others, and gives them a renewed sense of self. To learn more, find an Artis Senior Living community near you.
Sign Up For Our eNewsletter