Tips to Help Your Senior Loved One Feel Included During the Holidays
If you’re a caregiver for a senior, the holidays can be an especially challenging time. You might have to juggle medical appointments and doctor visits, as well as navigating a busy social calendar. But it’s important not to forget about your elderly loved one during this time of year—after all, they deserve to enjoy the holidays just like anyone else! If you want your senior loved one to feel included at Thanksgiving dinner or on Christmas morning (or any other holiday), there are some simple steps that you can take:
Create traditions, and include your senior loved one in them.
- Create traditions. Traditions are for the whole family, not just for kids. These traditions can be things like having a Christmas tree and decorating it together, baking cookies on Christmas Eve, or reading a book as a family before going to bed on Christmas night.
- Include your senior loved one in these traditions. If you’re too busy to include your senior loved one in all of the holiday activities, then find time for at least one tradition that they are involved in. If they enjoy baking cookies with you or helping out with preparations for Christmas dinner, let them help! This will make them feel more included and appreciated by their family.
- Be flexible when necessary.
Keep up with their traditions, and make enough for the whole family to enjoy.
When it comes to holiday traditions, you want your senior loved one to be included. As much as you may want to leave the holiday meal planning up to the kids, don’t forget about grandma and grandpa. Make sure they are a part of any conversation about what’s for dinner, and include them in decisions about how much food to make. If possible, have everyone help out in the kitchen together—the kids will appreciate having an active role and spending time with their grandparents!
Talk about their favorite holiday memories.
Caregivers often overlook the importance of engaging with seniors about their past. This is because we think of them as older versions of ourselves, and we tend to forget that they have lived full lives with distinct memories and experiences. But talking about their favorite holiday memories will bring out the best in them—and it might even spark some good conversation between you and the senior loved one in your life.
Ask questions like:
- What was your favorite Christmas when you were young?
- What was your favorite holiday tradition growing up?
- What was your favorite food during the holidays?
You may find that some of these answers are exactly what you were hoping for—but other times it will come as an unexpected surprise!
Don’t forget the small gestures.
- Use your voice. It’s important that you, as their caregiver, are heard by your senior loved one. Don’t keep quiet in the face of negative comments or situations that make them uncomfortable!
- Don’t forget to say thank you. This is especially important during the holiday season when schedules start to get busy and people are doing so much for others that they often forget to thank those who help them out in little ways like picking up groceries or dropping off a gift card. If you’re helping them out around the house, make sure to let them know what all you’ve done, so they can give thanks where it’s due!
- Give hugs whenever possible—even if there seems like there’s no reason for it at all! You don’t want it to get awkward if someone else sees how affectionate your relationship is becoming with an older family member, but sometimes even just holding hands while walking down the street makes a big difference in how each person feels about themselves when alone later on at home or work later on after seeing each other again.”
Give them a key role in the festivities.
- Make sure they are involved in the festivities. The holiday season can be a lonely time for seniors, especially if their children and grandchildren live far away. To ensure that your loved one feels included during this time of year, take an active interest in their lives and offer to help them celebrate with you. If there are any events or traditions that you have with your family, consider inviting them along as well.
- Give them control over what they eat and drink during special meals. This can be especially important for seniors who have certain dietary restrictions or limitations due to medical conditions like diabetes or heart disease—but it’s also something worth considering if you want to make sure your loved one gets exactly what he or she wants on Thanksgiving Day! After all, eating is one of life’s greatest pleasures—and giving someone else control over what goes into their mouth can go a long way toward making them feel cared for (and respected).
Make sure they’re comfortable.
Making sure your senior loved one is comfortable and not in pain:
- You may want to consider getting a hospital bed or a recliner.
- Make sure they’re eating regularly and getting enough sleep.
- Make sure they are not feeling lonely—this is the time of year when many people are alone, and it can be depressing if you don’t have anyone around you who cares about you and wants to spend time with you.
Make sure they are not feeling overwhelmed by all of the holiday preparations taking place around them (you might want to make some suggestions on how this will help alleviate some stress).
Make sure that everyone else in the house isn’t ignoring them because everyone is busy with their own families coming over for dinner later on this evening—share some ideas about things that could be done together instead of separately so everyone feels included!
If they have a consistent caregiver that helps you out, you may want to consider inviting them along to holiday gatherings as well. This way, your loved one will have the care they need, and you can focus on the gathering at hand.
Be patient and go with the flow.
The holidays can be an exciting time, but they can also be stressful for everyone. It’s important to remember that everyone is different and everyone has their own way of doing things. Be patient with your loved one if they have trouble following instructions or feel like something is too difficult. Keep things simple and easy to follow, so they don’t get confused or frustrated. If your senior loved one prefers printed directions, try printing out the directions in large font so that it’s easier for them to read as well!
Also make sure your senior loved one has everything they need – especially food and water! You may want to let them know ahead of time what you would like them to bring (or not bring) so there are no surprises when it comes time for dinner or lunch during the holidays, instead of just relying on whatever was available at home – this will help both parties feel more comfortable about attending gatherings together because there won’t be any awkwardness about what type of food might be served later on down the line.
Don’t forget to include your seniors in the holiday fun!
While it’s important to make sure that your senior loved one is included in holiday festivities and traditions, it is equally important not to overwhelm them.
It’s important for seniors to feel comfortable during the holidays and for their family members to respect their wishes. If your senior loved one does not want to attend the office Christmas party or help out at the school pageant, respect those boundaries.
Make sure that you are prepared for any questions from family members or friends who may be curious about how they are doing. You don’t need to give a detailed explanation of what is going on (though it never hurts if you’re comfortable sharing), but simply letting people know that everything is okay should suffice enough for most situations where someone asks about your loved one’s health status during the holiday season—and remember: it’s okay not knowing how things will go ahead of time!
Whether you have a senior loved one who is still very active in the holiday celebrations or a more frail person who can no longer participate, it’s important to make sure that they are included. By keeping up with their traditions and including them in yours, creating new ones together and taking care of their comfort level, you’ll create a memorable holiday season for everyone involved.
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