Don’t forget the seniors in your life when celebrating the holidays. For many of us, the end of December is a busy time, focused on family, parties, time off work and even travel. It is an exciting time that allows us to be festive and joyful. It is important to remember, though, that for some older adults the holidays can be depressing, stressful or lonely. You can help fill up their days with events they can put on their calendar and look forward to. Short visits of one or two hours can be fun for you and your elderly family member.
Back in the day, your parents or senior family members were as busy as you were planning, shopping, cooking and decorating for the holidays and then gradually they became less and less active. Including them in your holiday preparations can help keep them busy. For example, choose a slower time at the stores and go shopping for cards, gifts and wrapping paper; go slowly and enjoy the decorations. Make sure to rest and have an enjoyable lunch. Invite a friend of theirs who might not have anyone to take them shopping and would enjoy the companionship.
Schedule another visit to address cards and wrap presents. Ask questions about the friends or family they are sending the cards to; bring hot chocolate and holiday cookies.
Invite your elder family members to help plan a holiday meal. Ask for ideas for the menu and make sure to include some of their favorite recipes. Bring them along when shopping and make sure to invite them into the kitchen to help prepare a dish. Some seniors will not be able to stand the whole time, so set up a station at the kitchen table where they can help read the recipe and prepare the ingredients. Visit and reminisce about holidays long ago. The time will fly, and you both will enjoy the companionship in the kitchen.
Encourage your senior family member to decorate their home for the holidays. A festive wreath or menorah can brighten their day and make them feel a part of the season. Make sure to buy candles or an electric menorah if candles are a concern. A small tree with cherished ornaments will bring a smile. Find a few pictures of loved ones to put in holiday frames.
Enjoying the Season
There are many ways to enjoy the season for seniors. Plan an outing to look at Christmas lights and stop for a dessert or cup of hot chocolate. Make plans to attend a concert or play. Many churches have special pageants featuring music and stories about the season. Most malls have decorations and programs scheduled throughout the month to listen to local choirs or see decorations. Look at the events in your neighborhood and choose two or three to attend. Most seniors love to see their grandkids perform, so make sure to invite them.
Find ways to include the entire family in your celebration. Encourage older family members to share stories from their past. Use photo albums or videos to try and stimulate memories. Invite everyone in the family to talk about a holiday tradition they enjoy and take the time to listen and ask questions.
Holiday gatherings with family can be overwhelming for seniors. Older family members may tire easily or feel over stimulated. The noise and confusion of a large family gathering can prove to be exhausting. Schedule the senior’s day to include rest and quiet time either alone or with a loved one. A quiet moment helping in the kitchen or a short walk can prove to be very energizing and also offer you some special time with your loved one.
The Gift of Time
Basically, it all boils down to these four words. The Gift of Time is the best present for your elderly loved one. Whether you are shopping, cooking, sharing stories or napping, having a companion next to you that loves you and cares will make this holiday special for you and your senior.