The holidays are usually a time for fun and excitement. However, circumstances can change as we go through life. The death of loved ones, losing touch with others, and experiencing the physical changes of aging can bring on negative feelings this time of year.
Seniors can experience physical limitations. Mobility issues and health problems can make it impossible to go out and ring in the New Year the way a person did when they were younger. However, that doesn’t mean that celebrating in an assisted living community has to be a bad thing. There are many ways to lift spirits and enjoy the end of the festive season.
Holiday Decorations Help Get Everyone in the Spirit
Holiday decorations are a great way to get everyone in the spirit of the season. Hang sparkly things on the walls, put centerpieces on the tables, or find other fun ways to prepare the area for celebration.
You can turn this pre-celebration activity into a fun pastime by holding a holiday decoration craft session. Have residents make decorations that they can hang in their rooms. Those who are able could even help find the best places to display decorations.
If you have a loved one in assisted living, you could plan to visit and have your own decoration-making session. It’s a great opportunity to bond and make new memories this holiday season.
Make a Special Spread for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Dinner
Food is a staple in just about every holiday across the U.S. Special dishes are often served during these times. That’s why we often associate food with specific occasions.
Put together tasty treats to enjoy on New Year’s Eve. Then continue the celebration by hosting a special spread for New Year’s Day. You can incorporate the traditions of residents to make it extra-special. For example, some people think that eating pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day will bring you good luck.
Ask around and find out if anyone has a New Year’s food tradition that they would like to share.
Plan Group Activities for Assisted Living Residents
Socializing is a great way to lift spirits. Plan group activities that encourage togetherness. Chatting and laughing with friends is a wonderful way to spend a holiday. Group activities can include games, performances, craft projects, and anything else seniors can do together.
Host a Senior-Friendly New Year’s Happy Hour
Alcohol is often enjoyed on New Year’s. You can introduce this tradition, but more safely, by including some non-alcoholic cocktails. Food and beverages should be chosen based on the dietary needs of residents, so it may be best to avoid alcohol (or at least avoid it in excess).
You can make it more exciting by dressing the cocktails up for the holiday. Add edible sparkles or a New Year’s stirrer. There are plenty of recipes for cool and colorful beverages available online.
If you are a friend or family member of a senior in assisted living, you could plan a mini cocktail party for two (or a small group of loved ones). You could invite your loved one’s neighbors over to turn it into an opportunity to make new friends.
Have a Holiday Makeover Session with New Year’s Attire
Getting dressed up is another holiday celebration staple. Gather some senior-friendly attire, makeup, and accessories, and have fun with it! You could even bring in a makeup artist who can create some beautiful looks for the ladies.
Spice things up with feather boas, sparkly hair clips, dazzling bracelets, and more. These items look great and are generally easy to wear for people in wheelchairs or who have mobility limitations. When you look festive, you are more likely to feel festive!
Bring Everyone Together to Discuss the Past and Future
New Year’s is heavily focused on the events of the past and the future to come. These can be difficult subjects for some seniors. It is beneficial to remember the things you are thankful for and the things you have to look forward to in the coming year.
Bring residents together to discuss the past year. Focus on the positive things. What are they thankful for? What was their fondest memory? Did they have any new experiences or make any new friends? Are there things they hope to do again in the future?
You can also discuss next year. What events are they looking forward to participating in? Is anyone hitting a milestone? Has anyone made any New Year’s resolutions?
These are all great conversation starters that help everyone view this time of year in a positive light.
Build Atmosphere with Festive Music
Another great mood-builder is music. It sets the tone and creates a party atmosphere. Have a holiday playlist ready to go. Consider your audience and don’t forget to include some of their favorites. You can also ask around for recommendations.
Organize a New Year’s Movie Night
Pick a special film to screen on New Year’s Eve! Make this movie night even better with fresh-popped popcorn.
There are plenty of New Year-themed movies to choose from that seniors may love. Titles like Holiday (1938), Chimes at Midnight (1965), Holiday Inn (1942), or ‘Til We Meet Again (1940) can help you get started.
Just like with the music, you can also ask residents what they love to watch during the holidays.
Be Mindful of Mental Health Around New Years
People of all ages often struggle with mental health during New Year’s. This can be especially true for seniors in assisted living.
Many know they are facing the last chapter in their lives, and a celebration about the passing of time really drives that point home. For others, holidays remind them of memories of people who are gone or events that are in the past and out of reach.
While senior mental health should always be a priority, take care to check on older loved ones during this time. Make sure support is available. If you have a loved one in assisted living, check in with them and monitor any changes in their attitude and personality. Speaking with a therapist can help.
Gather to Countdown to the New Year Together
The New Year’s countdown is usually the highlight of the holiday. There are many places on television or the internet to watch the famous Times Square ball drop just before midnight.
Make this a part of your celebration by having a TV ready to go where everyone can see it. Count down together and build excitement for the New Year!
Assisted living communities keep seniors active with holiday events and celebrations. Visit the Casas website now to learn more about our locations. You can also contact us to schedule a tour or to find out what’s on our events calendar for this month.