The holidays can be a great time for family togetherness and traditions, but they can also be lonely and difficult for those who have experienced losses. When it comes to holidays and the elderly, those who have lost spouses and have experienced a lot of life change can be especially prone to loneliness and depression. If you’d like to make the holidays a bit more special for your elderly loved one, or just for elders in your community, here are some ideas from our experts on holidays and the elderly.
Gifts for Seniors (That They Will Actually Use and Enjoy!)
Check out Aging Wisely’s comprehensive Gifts for Seniors guide (including a coupon for senior-friendly clothing and more)! Our monthly newsletter often includes our latest gift guide, where we bring you fresh, new ideas with links directly to our curated product list. We often include seasonal ideas or new products we love, as well as gifts to cover an array of interests and needs.
The gift of time and/or assistance can be most valuable for many elders. When it comes to holidays and the elderly, plan an outing or some special time together and think about areas that are difficult for your loved one. Could Mom use some help with shopping or addressing her Christmas cards? Could you purchase housekeeping services for Mom and Dad or someone to assist with cooking once/week? Does Dad like to keep his car spic and span? What about gift certificates for the local car wash or a mobile detailing service?
Feel free to contact us for more ideas and resources, as well as errand and in-home assistance in the Clearwater, Florida area. We have been participating in a program called Elves for Elders for many years and we’d be glad to help you find ways to give back to elders in your community also.
Holidays and the Elderly: Planning Celebrations
Here are a few expert tips when planning holiday events and celebrations with your elderly loved ones:
- Be realistic about timing and what the person can do. It may make sense to arrange shorter gatherings or modify times.
- If your loved one lives in a nursing home or assisted living, talk to the care staff to understand what help the person might need on an outing. See this and other tips and info. in our post, “Can I take my loved one out of the nursing home for a visit?“.
- Bring the celebration to the elder. Why not come over and cook a meal at the elder’s home where he/she may be more comfortable (of course, bringing what’s needed and cleaning up after)? Travel can be hard on a person with limited mobility or health issues, so it may be the time to come to them.
- Consider health/eating restrictions and plan alternatives or modified versions of holiday favorites. There are so many recipes online to make favorites with low sugar, reduced fat, no meat, low sodium or substitute ingredients. Find out if your loved one’s medications interact with any foods (for example, grapefruit should not be eaten with several medications and people on blood thinners often have restrictions on foods and alcohol). Here are a couple great examples: Diabetic-Friendly Holiday Recipes and Coumadin-Safe Recipes (there’s also a coumadin-friendly cookbook available on Amazon and great ideas on Pinterest).
Holidays and the Elderly: Activity Ideas
Whether you’re a family or professional caregiver, make the holidays special with some enjoyable activities.
- Make a favorite family holiday recipe together. Create a recipe book/document family recipes.
- Assist the elder with holiday cards and correspondence, shopping and mailing packages.
- Help set up Skype or Facetime with long-distance relatives.
- Decorate the home or room together. If the elder lives in a nursing home or assisted living, you could go out and buy some simple decorations to make the room more festive. Window clings are one great example and small touches can personalize and warm up the space.
- Watch a holiday movie together. Here’s a great list of top holiday movies to discover some new ones! You can also listen to holiday music or watch TV specials.
- Find out about special events in the area and plan an outing. Orchestras and choirs often have holiday music events, schools have plays and shows and there are holiday craft fairs and something for any interest. Find out about event logistics and mobility (special parking, wheelchair and bathroom accessibility, etc.) beforehand and hire a helper if it will make things easier.
- Talk about holiday traditions and memories. You could even help your loved one (or care recipient) document special memories and create a photo book with captions or simply assist in writing a letter or recording information to send to family members.