With beloved traditions, festive food, and an abundance of family and friends, the holidays are filled with cherished memories. Yet when our loved ones reach a certain age, mobility issues and other concerns can make it challenging to continue family traditions. Anyone who has negotiated a crowded room with a walker or struggled to find a place to sit for a senior family member understands the feeling.
How can you create a holiday celebration that accommodates the needs of your aging parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles? The experts in aging at Seashore Gardens have some tips that can help.
Set up for seniors.
Holiday gatherings can be loud, long and hectic. Try to see them through a senior’s perspective and make the necessary adjustments to keep them manageable for an elderly guest.
- Make sure the gathering is on one floor and easy to navigate.
- Ensure there is senior-friendly seating as well as accessible bathrooms.
- Set up a side room where an elderly person can have one or two visitors at a time if the main area gets too loud.
- Seat an older person in the center of the table rather than at the end. That will give him/her access to the most conversation—and especially with the grandkids!
Engage your elders.
While it’s probably fun for your loved one to observe all that’s going on, it’s even more meaningful for them to be a part of the action.
- Enlist your family’s help to bring your loved one plates of food, chat with them, and bring them into the conversation or activity at hand.
- Bring generations together by looking at photo albums, sharing stories. Photos are the best ways to engage with someone with memory loss.
- If your loved one is able, have him/her read a story to young family members or join them in a game. Remember that vision and hearing loss are issues so be sensitive to what is comfortable.
Update the traditions.
Adjust your holiday traditions so that they may be enjoyed by your loved one, despite more limited mobility and health issues.
- Keep it simple and don’t try to overdo it. Remember that companionship is the best gift you can give your loved one.
- Put the lights and holiday decorations inside the house rather than outside so your loved one can enjoy them.
- Schedule holiday outings for off-peak hours. Keep your loved one warm and away from cold weather as much as possible.
- Incorporate the foods that your loved one remembers in the celebration, taking into consideration any dietary restrictions.
With so many gatherings this season, you may inadvertently expose your loved one to a seasonal virus. While these viruses could result in minor symptoms for us, they are far more serious for them.
- Take the precautions that make the difference. Make sure that everyone at the gathering is vaccinated against COVID-19 and the flu, or if not, wears a mask and maintains social distance.
- Make hand washing a priority.
- Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
- Remember that virtual celebrations are always an option.
About Seashore Gardens Living Center
The Simon & Sylvia Zisman Seashore Gardens Living Center (SGLC) is a nonprofit home for the aged, guided by Jewish tradition, law, and charity, dedicated to enriching the quality of life for its residents. The 125,000 square foot senior Living Center features a continuum of services which include assisted living, short- and long-term nursing care, Alzheimer’s care, respite care and full rehabilitation services all under one roof. For more information, visit www.seashoregardens.org.