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 […]
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, when you have an aging loved one to consider, there are additional worries. How do I cater to my parents’ needs? What are their limits? How do I make sure they’re enjoying themselves? While these questions will surely pop up, there’s no reason they need to hinder your holiday celebrations. To help you prepare, here are four tips for a happy and healthy holiday season with your aging loved one:
1. Consider what’s best for seniors.
The first thing to think about when celebrating the holidays with an aging loved one is their living situation. If they’re still living independently, it will be easier for them to come to the family home to celebrate with you. Transportation is something you’ll need to keep in mind. If traveling is too difficult for your senior, it may be a good idea to consider bringing the celebration to them. The situation will be entirely different if your elderly parent is in an assisted living home. If they have dementia and generally don’t enjoy outings, it may be better to visit them. On the other hand, if they don’t have cognitive impairments, you can handle their physical needs, and they’re in the area, taking them to the family home may be exactly what they want. The important thing is to talk to your loved one, and their caregiver if applicable, to see what they’re up for and most comfortable with.
2. Ask about any dietary restrictions.
Holiday food can be full of carbs and sugar, which can potentially throw off the diet of your senior. If you are planning on serving a heavy meal and rich deserts, balance it out by offering a lighter meal earlier or later in the day. It is also good to always offer healthy options to choose from. Seniors often have special nutritional and dietary needs, such as sodium or sugar restrictions. You can help your loved one avoid a stressful or unhealthy situation by planning holiday meals with healthy alternatives.
3. Plan activities for all ages.
The holiday season can be a lonely time for many seniors. To help combat loneliness, invite your loved one to join in family festivities. Ask your loved ones to help cook a special dish for the holiday meal or direct the young ones in decorating the house. The holidays can center around meals, so think about taking the whole family on a walk around the block to keep your loved ones moving. There are also plenty of activities that are good to include for those who aren’t as mobile. These include watching a movie (let them pick it!), doing a puzzle together, playing a board game or singing holiday songs..
4. Make things accessible.
This tip is more about keeping your aging loved ones safe and healthy. If your parent is staying with you, try to give them a room on the first floor so they can avoid stairs as much as possible. Give them a space where they have easy access to the bathroom and everything else they will need. This can be difficult to do when you have a full house during the holiday season, but keeping areas clutter-free and checking that rugs and mats are non-slip will help to avoid any accidental falls.
It’s more than possible to plan a holiday for the family that both you and your aging loved ones will enjoy. Don’t stress about making everything perfect or exactly how it used to be, as there will certainly be changes or adjustments to make to the regular routine. If your elderly parent can’t come to you because they’re in an assisted living center, there are still ways to connect and make the holidays special for them.
At Paradise Living Centers, we host a White Elephant gift exchange and try to get all of our residents in the holiday spirit with participation in special activities and decorations. If you want to schedule a tour of one of our homes and learn more about Paradise Living Centers, call (480) 878-4112.