Every year, your family likely looks forward to special holiday traditions. Perhaps it’s Grandma’s turkey dinner or your bread pudding with rum sauce. But the past couple of years, you’ve noticed that Grandma is losing her stamina for preparing large family meals. And you and other family caregivers could be facing health issues, job stresses and other challenges as well.
Such gradual changes are a discouraging trend that many families know all too well. But these stages of aging don’t need to steal the joy from your holiday gatherings, and sideline older adults.
It might be time to adapt traditions so the entire family can continue to enjoy the festivities. This holiday season, try incorporating these suggestions from the Home Instead Center for Successful Aging.
10 Ways to Make Holiday Traditions Senior-Friendly
1. Reconsider the Menu
Holiday cooking and baking can be tiring and stressful. If the family is set on a traditional holiday meal, make it a group effort. For example, you and Mom could supervise, and others in the family can learn the secrets to making those favorite beloved family recipes.
2. Mix it Up
Let’s face it, the later the time of day, the more everyone – from young children to aging adults – starts to fade. Why not plan a holiday brunch rather than a dinner, or attend a daytime religious service instead of the evening one?
3. Think Simple
You may love seeing the family home all decked out for the season but hauling boxes of decorations may become impossible for an aging adult. Get together with family and friends and decide which holiday decorating traditions to keep and what to forego and then assign tasks accordingly.
4. Lend a Hand
When arthritis prevents family members from writing cards or macular degeneration damages eyesight and makes it difficult to shop for gifts, recruit someone in the family to take on those tasks. If time is short, suggest more efficient options such as online shopping and sending e-cards. Check out this gift guide for other ideas.
5. Compensate When Necessary
If hearing impairment keeps anyone in the family from enjoying the annual holiday movie, check out the latest sound enhancement technology. If a parent or grandparent is having trouble seeing the deck of playing cards, look for large print cards or activities that can help keep her in the game.
6. Hit the Road
You no doubt remember it as a child – those holiday light tours that you and your parents loved. A holiday driving tour is an easy way to bring back the memories and joy to an older adult who can no longer decorate or prefers not to drive.
7. Go Virtual
Distance can separate older adults from loved ones, which exacerbates loneliness, isolation and depression during the holidays. Use the latest technology, such as FaceTime and Zoom, to help an stay connected to loved ones from afar.
8. Relive Memorable Moments
Older adults living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias will especially appreciate opportunities to tap into old memories. Listen to favorite carols and ask your loved one to share his or her most vivid memories, like taking a horse-drawn sleigh ride or hunting game for the holiday meal.
9. Make New Memories
Sometimes, things must change. If an older adult or other family members can’t participate in the holiday or someone has been hospitalized, why not find other ways to capture memories of the season? Or arrange to have a group sing carols to the ill family member – traditional songs from his or her generation.
10. Get Help
One of the best ways to adapt holiday activities is to ask for help. Enlisting the help of a care professional to help with meal preparation or to provide transportation for your loved one can lighten the load for families and free them up to maximize special holiday time with loved ones.
Learn more about how home care services can help you and your family during the holidays!