Your aging loved one may be slowing down, but it doesn’t mean grandma or grandpa doesn’t want to celebrate the holidays anymore. Finding ways to modify holiday traditions or by creating new ones that fit their lifestyle and speed will reduce stress levels and keep everyone connected and happy this season.
10 Caregiving Tips at Holiday Time
by the New England Chapter of the Aging Life Care Association™
The experts in aging well of the New England area offer these ten ideas to help caregivers celebrate the holidays with the elderly.
1. Visit early in the day to avoid sundown syndrome.
“Sundowning” refers to a state of confusion at the end of the day and into the night. By respecting your loved one’s daily routine, you can help prevent triggering confusion or anxiety.
2. Look at photo albums together.
Looking at pictures is a great way to spend time with both the young and old. The stories shared are true treasures.
3. Play familiar board games.
Board games exercise the mind while entertaining. Today, there are many games that are designed for especially for aging adults.
4. Bring your pet to visit.
If you (or someone you know) has a calm, loving animal that is good with people, bring it for a visit. Pet therapy is being incorporated into many assisted living and nursing home communities across the world.
5. Enjoy her favorite music CD or TV program.
Studies show that playing familiar music has the capability to calm, soothe, and even trigger memories for many dementia patients. While it may not seem like a grand activity, the companionship and shared time are what’s important. (https://musicandmemory.org/)
6. Make a holiday craft together.
Be sure to take into consideration the physical and mental capabilities of your loved one when selecting a craft activity. Pinterest is a great source for ideas.
7. Take a walk together.
Sometimes a little change of scenery is medicine for the soul. If weather permits, go outside and breathe in some fresh air and watch the clouds. Can’t go outside? Then take time to stroll around inside and talk about the pictures on the walls or about memories associated with specific rooms or furniture.
8. Plan on brief visits with children.
Seeing the holidays in through the eyes of children is magical. But in small spaces or during hectic days, sometimes children’s excitement can be overwhelming. Make sure to select a time of day when both children and grandma are at their best (ex. avoid meal and nap times). Depending on the age of the children, incorporate their visit with a craft activity or board game.
9. Serve sparkling cider and gingerbread.
Turn a visit into a small celebration and serve festive, holiday themed snacks.
10. Decorate a small Christmas tree.
Whether you decide to craft a few ornaments or select a few family keepsakes to hang on the tree, the time spent together is the true gift.
For more tips on celebrating the holidays with the elderly, you may be interested in these articles:
- Holding on to Holiday Traditions
- Gift Ideas for the 80+ Adult
- Holiday Giving Ideas for the Paid Caregiving Team
- How do I Know if Grandpa Needs Help? What to Look for During Holiday Visits
About the author: The New England Chapter of the Aging Life Care Association™ represents Aging Life Care Professionals™ working in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Quebec. To find an expert in aging well and to learn more about the New England Chapter, visit their website or follow on Twitter or Facebook.