Many people find the holidays to be stressful or depressing for just about every reason you can imagine. But senior members of the family, especially those in assisted living communities, can experience a particularly bittersweet holiday experience. At one time they were probably somewhat in charge of creating and orchestrating the holidays for the whole family. And even if they were never the planners and bakers and cookers, they were at least a part of a family gathering that brought everyone together. So how can you ensure that they still enjoy the holidays, even if too much has changed for things to feel the same?
Part of what makes the holidays fun is that we know they’re coming and we plan for events, eating, gift giving and receiving, and other family holiday traditions. Get excited about a big visit with a number of family members. Plan to decorate a tree or their room together. Ask them to help plan the details. Even if you can’t include your loved ones in everything about the holiday, plan something special for them to look forward to.
Help Them Choose and Buy Gifts
If your elderly loved ones are interested in participating in gift-giving, facilitate that process. Let them know what their grandchildren asked for from Santa and then say you’ll go get that gift on their behalf.
Create New Traditions
Your loved ones may be very aware of how different things are now. If you can turn that into something positive, you can make the holidays something to look forward to. Create new traditions of decorating, eating, or gift exchanging with your elderly relatives. Bring a game and plan to play together. You may want to involve other seniors in an effort to spread holiday cheer. Your loved ones will enjoy helping others to be happy, too.
Remember that no matter what else is going on in your elderly loved one’s life today, the holidays have been part of their lives for so long that creating special moments now mean even more that you can imagine.