It’s holiday season, and it’s time to start thinking about how to include mom, dad and grandma and grandpa into your plans. Though it seems cheerful, the holiday season can feel alienating for many older adults, especially if they live alone or have specialized needs. It’s important to keep them in mind when planning celebrations and parties so no one feels left out or lonely.
Here are some tips on how to keep the merriment going:
Communicate. Talk to your loved one. Ask them what they were planning on doing for the holidays, and see what they feel comfortable with. Some people will be upfront about their needs, while others will need some coaxing. Do your best to keep the conversation light so they don’t begin feel like a burden.
Consider their needs and abilities. If you notice mom struggling to get up and down the stairs, don’t plan on activities that involve a lot of walking – or provide an alternative plan. Perhaps grandma will need to miss picking pumpkins, but you can show her your finds after with a fun visit.
If your loved one has dementia or Alzheimer’s, avoid overstimulation. Perhaps plan on using an adjoining room, where family and friends can visit a few at a time, so they don’t get too overwhelmed or confused.
If necessary, make sure the location is accessible. Walkers and canes can make getting up from the dinner table difficult. Plan on seating your aging guests on the ends, with plenty of room to move around. Also, remove any items on the floor that could lead to trips or falls.
Make sure there are senior-friendly activities and food. If your loved one has limited vision or mobility, it’s important to plan something for them to do during the festivities. Play to their strengths. If they enjoy cooking or baking, plan a holiday cookie bake to bring people together. Board games, cards and classic movies are also go-to favorites.
Ask about their dietary needs and preferences. Ask well in advance to ensure plenty of options. Soft foods are typically easier to chew and swallow, so there should be several kinds if possible. Maybe they will even share an old favorite holiday recipe.
Get the grandkids involved, if there are some. Intergenerational activities are extremely beneficial. Children and seniors may have much more in common than they think. They are both often underestimated but very wise. Maybe, the kids can read a newspaper or book to their grandparent, or vise versa. This is an especially good plan if your loved one has low or poor vision.
Be compassionate. Don’t forget what this season is about. Sharing time with loved ones is the ultimate goal so be as compassionate and supportive as you can, even if mom or dad seems a little grumpy or agitated. The holidays are for everyone, so just make sure they feel loved and included.
This information is provided by CarePatrol of Baltimore, a senior housing placement agency that serves the Baltimore city and county areas. If you or your loved ones needs to find a new home, consider talking to a CarePatrol housing placement specialist. They will sit down with you, assess your needs and financial situation, and offer the best options they can find. They are also available for tours and guidance during your final search. You can contact a specialist at (410) 844-0800 or CarePatrolBaltimore@CarePatrol.com. Also find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CarePatrolBaltimore.