The holiday season is a wonderful opportunity to spend quality time with friends and family while creating lasting memories, for children and aging parents alike. There are always the usual stresses that arise this time of year, like making sure gifts are bought, meals are sorted, and activities are planned to keep everyone happy. However, […]
Senior loneliness during the holiday season can unfortunately be the gift that keeps on giving. While often a time of togetherness and celebration, the holidays can also fuel feelings of nostalgia and longing for people and places of the past. Aging naturally impacts who we are, what we do, how we feel and who we are with, but those changes, and in some cases, losses, feel especially poignant at the holidays. Here are some tips on how to keep your senior loved ones’ holidays filled with smiles and love.
1. Help with the holiday cards.
This is a great way to spend time with your aging loved one. Go through the cards received and read through them together. Holiday cards can come bearing news of loss or illness and being there with your loved one will offer a source of comfort and support. It’s also an opportunity to talk and share memories stirred up by the cards and the people who sent them. While you’re at it, I ask your family and close friends to send a holiday card to your senior relative, providing news and pictures of what’s going on in their families. Finally, help your loved one create and send their own holiday cards. Such a project will keep your loved one engaged and connected with their friends and the outside world.
2. Decorate their living space.
Happy decorations can make for happier people. Why not bring your family to visit and make it an activity for everyone to do together. You could also think about bringing old decorations that have special meaning to your family; something that would connect them to a fond memory and keep the holiday spirit alive.
3. Organize a holiday party or gathering for your loved one and his or her peers.
At Paradise Living Centers, we have an annual holiday party for our residents and their families to join us and share holiday traditions. Over the years we have had children’s choirs and volunteer organizations perform or play games with our residents for a fun festive celebration. Please reach out to our head of events if you are interested in creating some holiday magic! If your aging senior still lives on his or her own, or with you—think about organizing a small, holiday get-together.
4. Adapt your traditions.
Maintaining those favorite holiday traditions can be difficult when your elderly loved one lives in assisted living or has challenging physical and emotional issues. Don’t lose those traditions, adapt them. If walking through the neighborhood to see the Christmas lights is no longer possible, go on a drive, but spend that time together. Set up a FaceTime call where everyone can participate in a family tradition from past holidays and your loved one can see them being carried on. Communicate with your loved one’s caregiver about what traditions and activities you would like to re-create. He or she can help you adapt those activities to your loved one’s needs.
Senior loneliness doesn’t have to plague your elderly loved ones. The key is to think, plan adapt and do. Bring your loved one into the joy of the holiday season by bringing the celebration to where they are: physically, emotionally and mentally.