The holidays are a joyous time, but they are also a nostalgic time. For seniors, this nostalgia can be tinged with a bit of loneliness, sadness and even grief for the ones they have lost. Even changes in the weather – clouds, cold and rain that may prevent them from their daily walk or outdoor activities, or that deprive them of much-needed sunshine, can lead to seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
We know this time of year is busy – or downright hectic – for the average household, but we recommend taking a little extra timeout to including your beloved senior(s) in holiday activities.
Tips For Involving Senior Loved Ones in Holiday Events
Here are some suggestions for how you can involve senior loved ones in holiday events. It can make all the difference in the way they feel this holiday season.
Have them over. A simple pick up and drop off is all that’s required to involve a senior in your holiday happenings. From sorting through ornament boxes and decorating the tree and house, to wrapping gifts or simply watching the hubbub from a quiet corner, the feeling of being included is often just enough to keep seniors feeling wanted and loved. And, don’t forget to head to their place to help with decorating there too. Managing holiday trees and decorations can be more than many seniors can handle on their own. They’ll appreciate your efforts to put up their favorite decorations – and then your willingness to take them back down again after New Year’s – so they can enjoy soaking up the season in all its glory.
Invite them to lead a cooking class. It’s inevitable that older holiday traditions will be phased out as new ones take their place, especially as families grow up or blend together in new family units. Some of these lost traditions, disappear by way of new recipe items. This holiday season, why not invite a grandparent over to share their favorite holiday recipes from when they were children. They can provide the ingredient list, you can do the shopping and then they can sit and watch as they teach you how to make the dish. It’s a special way to make memories, it honors the traditions of the past, and you all get to enjoy a delicious new menu item when all is said and done.
Have a gift-wrapping party. There’s nothing that robs us of our holiday cheer like pulling all-nighters wrapping gifts as the holiday’s approach. Instead, why not get a group together and have a gift-wrapping party? Or, bring some of your gifts and wrapping supplies to the senior’s home and wrap them together as you enjoy a little bonding time. While ribbons and bows may be difficult for arthritic hands, wrapping paper and tape will be easier to manage. Seniors can write the name of the recipient on the bottom of the wrapped gift and you can tie them up and label them as time permits when you return home.
Go caroling together. One of the most popular holiday “volunteer events” is to go caroling at nursing homes, hospitals, rehab centers and assisted living communities. Rather than have your favorite senior caroled to, why not bring them along on your own caroling party? If the senior is currently wheelchair bound, decorate it festively and wrap them up warm and cozy. If they don’t use mobility aids but might appreciate a little support, choose a preferred mobility aid for when they need a little help. If your loved one is beyond being able to carol, that’s okay too. They’ll still appreciate going along for the ride.
Make homemade gifts this year. Remember we talked about holiday traditions that have disappeared in the past? Only recently has the availability of credit made it possible for our culture to go gift shopping crazy. Not so long ago, presents were much more precious and were often made by hand especially for you. If you’d like to reign it in a bit this year, talk to your senior loved ones about the homemade and upcycled gifts of holiday’s past. Perhaps they’ll be able to teach you a new hobby, art or craft that will add heartfelt homemade gifts for the ones you love. It will be time well-spent.
Getting your senior loved ones involved in holiday activities is a win-win scenario for everyone. We’d love to hear how your family helps to keep seniors filled with holiday cheer. Leave us your ideas in the HomeAide Homecare comment box below.