If you ask a senior family member what they really want for the holidays, the answer probably won’t surprise you. More than a “grip-and-grab” reaching tool or a new pair of slippers, the older adults in your life really want the gift of time.
Loneliness can be a struggle for many seniors all year long and can be compounded during the holiday season. With small special touches, the holidays can signal happier times, and nurturing this feeling while loved ones are spending time with family can be healing for everyone. Here are some suggestions to make the time memorable.
Recreate favorite traditions
Memories can be powerful things. It may not take much to trigger them, even in older adults with cognitive difficulties. Was there a special food they always made at the holidays? Did you sing songs around the fire or make cookies together? Did you play board games with the whole family? Working in a few of these low-key activities to your holiday schedule can make the time special for everyone.
Look through family photo albums
Another way to trigger positive memories is to look back on earlier times. Pull out those old scrapbooks, shoeboxes, and photo albums. Talk about the pictures with your loved ones. You may gain new perspective on your family history or learn about lost traditions to preserve and pass down to the next generations.
Watch for signs that they need a break
Older adults can tire easily and hints of over-stimulation may arise. Keep an eye out for signs of fatigue in your loved one. If they seem stressed it may be because they are tired and need time out. And remember, there is no need to feel guilty when you need a break as well.
Work as best you can within their schedule
To help reduce holiday stress for both you and your loved one, talk with them about what days or times are most comfortable for them for a visit. For instance, they may be more active in the morning and tire early. Or, they may prefer to have a visit in the afternoon when they are used to getting out. This will help you to plan a pleasant visit that will be calm and engaging.
Best Wishes from everyone at Relative Care for a holiday season filled with love and laughter!