Happy holidays! It’s that time of year again. No matter what festivities you celebrate, the winter months are a wonderful time to come together with friends and family. You may be traveling far and wide to see family members you haven’t seen in ages. Or maybe you’re opening your door and welcoming in friends, neighbors, and family members to your own home. At this time of year, it’s important to get out and be social – and that includes making ample time for the seniors in your life!
At Mitchell Hollingsworth, we get creative with ways to engage our residents and ensure we have fun all year long! As we soak in the holiday excitement and spirit of the season, we want to highlight how to best involve our senior loved ones in the yuletide celebrations.
Time spent together, exciting events, shopping, presents, family traditions, and festive treats are just a few of the things we think about during the holiday season. While this is one of the most magical times of the year, it’s also a time that can be a little challenging for some families with aging relatives. Here are some ideas to engage your senior in the holiday fun to ensure everyone is included in the ways that are best for them!
Make Sure There Are Tasks for Seniors to Complete
Everyone wants to feel useful and important during the holiday season! If it’s possible, try to leave a few specially designated, low-impact chores aside for your older loved one during family get-togethers. Some ideas might include setting the table, helping to dry dishes after the meal, or giving them a spot at the cookie decorating table. Whatever the task may be, this will help keep your senior loved one engaged and included!
Make Time for Face-to-Face Contact
During the holiday season, it’s important to make sure your loved one truly feels seen. If it’s possible, try to make plenty of time for a face-to-face visit. This may mean traveling a bit out of your way if you live a long distance. But having the ability to sit down and have a lovely chat with your older relative may make it all feel worth it. Plus, paying a visit to your loved ones at home can give you a great opportunity to check some household “to-do” items off their list, as well as evaluate your senior’s living conditions for any potential “yellow flags.”
If it’s not possible to be there in person to share a meal, go for a walk, or play a game together, consider all of your technology options. A phone call can go a long way towards helping you and your loved one feel more connected, even across a great distance. Depending on how technologically savvy your loved one is (or if you can arrange some help for them), you may still be able to chat face-to-face, even from some distance away. There are more options out there than ever, including Zoom and Facetime, plus devices like Amazon Alexa.
Prepare a Senior-Friendly Meal
Whether your older loved one comes to the big family meal, or you two spend some time having a quieter, more intimate get-together, make sure that the meal is senior-friendly.
For one thing, be sure to ask your loved one what they’re in the mood to eat this holiday season. You may be surprised! Your loved one may request a traditional staple from their childhood, or maybe something new and unexpected. In either case, taking their wants and needs into account is a great way to make sure that your elderly loved one will have something to eat, that gets them excited for the holiday meal. Similarly, take your loved one’s dietary restrictions and needs into account. It’s important not to serve them anything that may be off-limits for a reason.
When you do prepare the meal, there are a few easy steps you can take to make the spread more senior-friendly. For instance, think about having a variety of soft, easy to chew foods available. Cut down the salt level in the meal and think about how you can slip in some healthy, nutrient dense superfoods. Finally, when it’s time to serve up the dishes, prepare some senior plates by controlling the portion size and making sure the food is cut up into manageable pieces.
Make Sure Your Senior Loved Ones Are Included in Your Holiday Traditions
Does your whole family come together for the holidays? Or will it just be a few of you, including your senior loved one? In any case, we’re willing to bet you have some treasured seasonal traditions that you’d love to do this year. It’s a great idea to keep traditions alive from year to year – especially if you make some easy changes to make your favorite pastime more senior friendly!
Bring In Some Professional Assistance
One of the most important things to remember about taking care of your loved ones during the winter months? You don’t have to go it alone. There are many options out there that can help make caregiving easier for you and make life much brighter and more enjoyable for your older loved ones. A professional caregiver or companion can be an invaluable help around the holidays, able to step in and provide support when you and your elderly loved one need it.
There’s no denying that celebrating holidays with an older loved one can be emotional and maybe even stressful. But hopefully, these insights and tips help you navigate this time of year with a little more grace and joy. The key is to provide a safe and loving space for your older loved one to enjoy themselves in their own way.