The holidays are meant to be a joyous time full of memories and celebration. However, these happy occasions can pose challenges for seniors and their family members. Older adults with mobility issues or conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia can feel isolated when everyone is getting together for celebrations and family visits.
The holidays can disrupt familiar routines and sometimes require travel, which often makes an aging individual feel like a burden. It is important to make sure that they feel included in some capacity during this time of year. Here are some tips to help you make the holidays joyous for everyone, regardless of their age.
Create New Traditions
If your family traditions involve activities that would now be too strenuous for your elderly loved one, this is a great time to discuss the possibility of creating new traditions that everyone can participate in! Baking, easy decorating activities, holiday crafts, shopping for gifts, and having friends and neighbors drop in for small gatherings can be simple and effective ways to bring the holiday spirit to your loved one. These types of festivities are also perfect for involving grandchildren as well.
If your family is scattered, it might be time to change the direction of travel for holiday gatherings. Instead of aging parents traveling to visit their adult children and grandkids, consider venturing to them or even meeting halfway at a new destination.
Often, it isn’t the holiday itself that causes feelings of depression, but rather that the holidays may bring memories of happier times. If this seems to be the case, activities such as watching home videos together or looking through old pictures can be a nice way to remember times as a family and help alleviate feelings of loneliness. Reminiscing is enjoyable for everyone and a valuable way of sharing memories and history with your family’s younger generations.
When possible, host the holiday meals at your home or plan to bring the celebration to your elders. Reducing their workload will help them better appreciate these get-togethers. Opting for a potluck-style family meal can help spread out the work as well.
Is your loved one is living in an assisted living community? Check in with the staff to see if they are hosting holiday activities. Elders who live in senior housing are encouraged to participate in onsite activities to alleviate the stress involved in attending family gatherings. Leaving the familiarity of senior housing can be very disorienting for seniors who are experiencing cognitive decline. Instead, arrange for family to visit or accompany your loved one to these events.
If an elder lives far away, or an in-person visit truly doesn’t seem possible this year, make sure you plan to ensure they will not be spending the holidays alone. If your loved one is living on their own, try to see if one of their neighbors or a friend might be able to visit with them.
Are you or someone you know in need of additional help when caring for a family member? Schedule your private tour today! Give our compassionate team a call today at 804.313.6172 or email Bo Baker at DSM.AHS@AuburnHillLiving.com. We look forward to meeting you and showing our award-winning assisted living and memory care community.