Joy to the World, the holiday season is here! Time to break out the decorations, ugly sweaters, string lights, and eggnog. The holidays are an exciting time of year to spend quality time with family and friends and cherish what truly matters. However, sometimes we can become so wrapped up in the holiday frenzy of gift-giving and feasting that we may overlook what truly matters— family, but more specifically, the seniors in our lives. And while a vast majority of people find the holidays to be a joyous and happy occasion, many older adults tend to find the holiday season confusing, hectic, or possibly depressing. While we often are not aware of how our actions and sometimes lack of actions impact our senior loved ones, it is important to take a step back and discuss how to ensure we include our seniors.
Take a Trip Down Memory Lane
If there is anything we have learned from spending countless occasions with our families and clients, it is that people absolutely adore reminiscing about their younger years. An excellent way to make the elders in your life feel important and heard is by asking meaningful questions and actively listening. Ask them questions such as, “what were your family traditions when you were growing up?” Comparing similarities and differences is a fast way to bond over a holiday feast and a great way to learn more about each other.
Ask Them to Help in a Small Way
The main theme of this article is to include everyone. Seniors and older adults want to feel useful and needed just like everyone else. Even asking them to help with simple tasks such as greasing a pan, peeling vegetables, mashing potatoes, setting the table, etc. can make a difference. Sometimes, the smallest tasks could mean the most to someone and help them feel valued. Consider asking them for help while preparing the holiday season feast this year.
Don’t Forget the Camera
If you are the type of family that doesn’t take photographs, consider switching it up this year! Photographs are a great way to capture timeless memories and remember the happy times. If you have older photos laying around, consider playing a game with the family to guess who is in the photo then have your elders recreate the story behind the photos. Perhaps even begin a new tradition of taking photos and adding them to a holiday photo album every year.
If your loved one lives alone or often experiences mobility issues, they may feel it is too bothersome to put up their decorations on their own. But this doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t want their house dressed up for the holidays. Plan a weekend, gather some family members, and decorate their home as a family. If you’re feeling ambitious, look up homemade holiday crafts that you and your elderly loved one can make together!
Go See a Holiday Concert
There are numerous holiday concerts, plays, and pageants to attend around your local community this time of year. The best part? These events are often free or extremely inexpensive, so they are a great way to spend an evening with your loved ones at no extra cost! It is easy for those without mobility issues to take for granted the ability to get dressed and rush out the door to see popular events around town with little to no preparation. But for many elders, while they may look forward to a special event, they may end up feeling too tired or unwell to head out in the chilling winter weather. Consider offering to drive a few seniors you know to a local community theater to enjoy! Knowing that someone cares enough to drive and consider them can truly lift their spirits and becomes major motivation to get out of the house.
Take a Trip to See Lights & Decorations
Everyone loves seeing the twinkling, colorful lights all around town. Many seniors will miss out on this fun holiday tradition though, especially if they no longer drive. Invite your family and loved ones to ride along with you as you drive through your community and neighborhoods. Some houses even have beautiful and impressive light shows accompanied by a radio station! After your holiday light tour, stop off for a warm beverage and sweet treat!
Carve Out Time to Make the Call or Send Cards
Cards and calls can go a long way – especially when someone doesn’t expect it. One great way to include seniors is to ensure they receive a holiday card and/or call letting them know they are thought about. Cards are a simple gesture to show your care and love for them. Even a simple call or even voicemail during the holiday season can bring joy to their day. Such small gestures let your family know that they are loved and cherished. If you’re feeling especially festive, consider gathering the entire family together for a holiday photoshoot to create your own holiday card.
Most importantly, just don’t let your senior loved one sit there alone during a holiday get-together. Whether it’s exploring your downtown area, decorating your home, or swapping stories, this holiday season, consider these tips to make everyone feel included in your family. Remember, everyone wants to feel important and included, and this doesn’t change as we age. No one knows how many more holidays we have together, so let’s make sure we make it count for everyone.