Celebrating Holidays With Aging Family Members
Tips for a Safe and Enjoyable Holiday Season
If you have elderly loved ones, it can take some careful thought and planning to prepare for the holidays. It is important to recognize loved ones’ wishes while also acknowledging any physical or medical restrictions that may impact their participation in holiday festivities.
As we prepare for the upcoming holiday season, these tips may be helpful to you and your family.
Talk to your loved one.
Make sure to give your loved one a voice in the planning! Find out if there are specific activities they would like to participate in. If he or she lives at home, your family may traditionally gather there for certain meals or celebrations. Consider that your loved one may be ready to give up their role as host. Your family may also be trying to make alternative plans this year, rather than hold a large gathering. Reassure your loved one that it is fine to start a new tradition.
Try to stick to your loved one’s routine.
It is likely that your aging loved one has a specific daily routine, and any disruptions to that routine may be stressful. If possible, plan events around your loved one’s routine or in the mornings when they are likely to be more alert. Some older adults find it more difficult or agitating to attend activities later in the day.
Be mindful of your loved one’s health concerns.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as well as the winter flu season, you may consider potential alternatives to “normal” activities. For example, does your loved one usually attend church services or a choir concert on certain holidays? Make a plan to safely transport your loved one to and from the service or event and arrange for their socially distanced seating. Or, offer to help them participate virtually, if that is an option.
Introduce new traditions.
Not every holiday activity needs to be a major event. Your loved one will likely appreciate smaller gatherings and opportunities to bake with you or a grandchild, work together on a holiday puzzle or craft, or watch a favorite movie.
Ensure your loved one will not be alone on the actual holiday.
Do you or other family members live far away? With the challenges of this year, your travel plans may have changed, potentially leaving your loved one alone on the actual day of the holiday. If possible, arrange for a friend or neighbor to stop by to safely offer companionship or help a loved one participate in a virtual gathering with family members. Even a socially distanced or virtual visit could make all the difference for a loved one alone on a holiday.
If you are looking for other advice for helping your aging loved one through the holidays, please do not hesitate to reach out. McGregor PACE is here to support Cleveland seniors and their families.