The upcoming holiday season means getting together with family, friends, and loved ones to celebrate. During this celebratory season, it’s important to keep in mind ways that the holidays may have changed for the older adults in your family. Those planning family gatherings should take into account senior family members’ physical and mental health so that the holidays at home can be a joyous occasion for the entire family.
Sometimes it’s as simple as having classic holiday music playing in the background or giving them a ride to and from the event. The following 11 tips will help ensure your holiday celebrations are safe, comfortable, and more fun than ever for every senior involved.
Make Sure Your Home is Senior Safe
One way to avoid any holiday hazards is to ensure that the home hosting the holiday event is senior safe. If the event is being held in the home of an older person with memory impairment, don’t rearrange the furniture, as this can cause confusion and anxiety. If the holiday event is in an unfamiliar place, remove slippery throw rugs and other items that could cause issues for someone with trouble balancing.
Consider a Holiday Brunch Over Dinner
For aging adults, the mornings tend to be the time they are most alert and active. This is why it might be a good idea to ditch the turkey in the evening and opt for a delicious holiday brunch spread instead.
Play the Classics
Most people associate music with specific memories, events, or emotions. For seniors, the music they hear during the holidays can be especially helpful in reminding them of a happy holiday event of the past. The power of music can be especially helpful for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. When used appropriately, music can shift mood, manage stress-induced agitation, stimulate positive interactions, facilitate cognitive function, and coordinate motor movements.
Offer to Give Them a Ride
If the holiday event isn’t being held at the senior’s home, a ride to and from the event will help ensure they can safely attend and take the stress out of traveling, especially when the potential for adverse weather can make roads dangerous. Family members should communicate with one another, and any caregiver, to have a schedule for picking up and dropping off the older loved one after the event.
Be Inclusive in Meal Preparations
If a grandma or grandpa has always been the chef of the house for holidays, sometimes it’s harder for them to put a full meal together as they grow older. Instead, make the holiday meal a group activity for all family members. Have a senior help with one dish or even assist in easier kitchen tasks like washing vegetables or greasing pans for cooking. Also, make sure to consider the dietary restrictions or needs of older family members.
Schedule a Video Chat for Family Far Away
If your family is spread out across the country, it can be hard for everyone to get together at one time, under one roof. To help seniors keep in touch with loved ones that live far away and are unable to attend festivities, make sure to set time aside for a video chat with those unable to make it. This will bring joy to both the senior in being able to catch up with a loved one not in attendance and, likewise, will help those afar feel still connected to the family.
During the frenzy of the holidays, it is important to help older family members who are on a strict medication schedule. If the senior is traveling for the holidays, make sure they have brought their medication along with them, and that it is taken when scheduled. Also, pay attention to any alcohol consumption during holiday parties and family gatherings, as alcohol can interfere with many medications.
Aside from catching up with family members, activities are a great way for everyone, including seniors, to feel involved in the holiday fun. Whether it’s a family board game, opening up the old photo albums or throwing on a classic holiday movie like “It’s A Wonderful Life,” there are numerous activities that family members both young and old can participate in.
Have a Quiet Space
The excitement of family and friends getting together around the holidays can create a lively and boisterous environment. This can sometimes be overwhelming for older adults, which is why it’s a good idea to have a quiet space in the home where a senior can get away, take a break, maybe even take a nap should the holiday festivities become too much for them.
Prep Younger Family Members
Sometimes it can be hard for younger family members to recognize the changes in their older relatives. They think of grandma and grandpa in a certain way they remember and can miss signs of significant changes in their behavior or abilities. This is why it is important for family members to talk with young ones about how grandma or grandpa might act or treat them differently over the holiday season.
Create New and Lasting Memories
The holidays are a great opportunity to create new holiday memories that you can share and cherish for years to come. Take some videos of the family at dinner or set time aside to snap a new set of family photos. Whatever it may be, it’s important to have fun and simply enjoy the time spent surrounded by loved ones.
For extra assistance with aging adults during the holiday season, SameAddress offers older adults an array of professional services that take the burden and worry out of everyday life. To help make the holidays easier and more comfortable for aging loved ones, call us today at 1-866-SENIOR-1.