The holidays are normally a time to be together with family and to enjoy each other’s company. For the older adult loved ones in your life, the holiday season can be full of reminiscing about holidays past. Whether they live independently or in an assisted living facility, there are many ways that you can keep them involved in the family traditions.
If you’ll be bringing grandma/grandpa to your home, you can make it easier on them with a few of the following strategies:
- Set a time that suits their schedule – if they go to sleep earlier, set dinner at an earlier time so they can join.
- Pick them up – if they aren’t driving, offer to pick them up at home.
- Assign them something to bring or do – they still want to contribute, but that might look different than it did in the past. Ask them to bring something simple or to help set the table.
- Incorporate some of their traditions – honor the past and the traditions that are important to them by sharing stories, photos or practicing old traditions.
- Do something special for them – Honor them in a special way. You could have flowers for your mother or make sure to stock their favorite soft drink or dessert.
- Include a date – if your loved one is widowed and dating, invite their date along and get to know them.
- Stay away from controversy – steer away from controversial topics like politics and avoid fights. You don’t want to remember the holidays for the arguments you had, but for quality time spent with your loved ones.
At a certain point, it may be hard for your loved one to leave the house. They may not want to leave their comfort zone for their health or other reasons, but it’s important not to see this as a slight but to find other ways to celebrate with them. You can offer to bring food to them, pick up groceries to cook at their house or bring them a plate of food from your gathering. While you visit, you can also look for signs that they may need more help around the home. If they don’t have food in the refrigerator they may benefit from a meal delivery service, or they may need a housekeeper to help clean up around the house. If they have been isolating themselves or seem withdrawn or anxious, they may benefit from visiting a behavioral health specialist. Most importantly, find ways to enjoy and spend time with your loved ones that will be special for both of you.
Laura Regan is the program director at Alamance Elder Care. Laura received a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from the Lynchburg College in 1991. She received a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in gerontology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2003 and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in health care administration with Pfeiffer University.