Moving to an assisted living community can be difficult for some seniors. It can mean both a change of setting and lifestyle. During the holiday season, these changes can be even more noticeable.
Many families have seasonal traditions that they enjoy each year. Your senior loved one may not be able to participate in these pastimes as they once did.
An assisted living community is a safe, comfortable place for seniors. It’s good for them to be in accommodations designed to provide the medical care and assistance they need. However, there is no replacement for spending time with friends and family and doing the things a person loves to do during the holidays.
Feelings of isolation and depression can be a bigger risk around this time of the year. There are several things that you can do to make your loved one a part of this year’s celebration, just like they always did before. This can be reassuring to them and help everyone enjoy the festivities.
Discuss the Holiday with Your Senior Loved One
You may feel uncomfortable discussing your holiday plans with a loved one who is in assisted living if they cannot participate. Don’t avoid the topic entirely. Discussing it can help your loved one feel like they are a part of the event. Listen to their stories of holidays past and let them provide suggestions and feedback for this year’s festivities.
Open communication has many benefits. It can make your loved one feel more comfortable in their new surroundings. It can also remind them that they are still included and that their input is still valued.
Learn About Events Hosted at the Assisted Living Community
Find out what events the assisted living community will be hosting for the holiday season. This could create opportunities to do things with your loved one. On-site events are ideal when your senior is not able to come home or visit.
Community events are also a great way for new residents to build bonds with their peers. They can socialize and make new friends, which is important to stave off feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Share Some Holiday Cheer with Food (If Permitted)
If you are permitted, you can bring in some of your loved one’s favorite holiday treats to enjoy. This could be anything from cookies and cake to savory dishes that they used to make.
You should speak to staff to make sure that you are allowed to bring in outside food and to discuss any dietary needs of your loved one. If the staff says it’s ok, you could bring in enough to share with your loved one’s neighbors. This creates another opportunity to socialize and meet fellow residents and staff.
Plan Virtual Gatherings with Visiting Family and Friends
We are in a time when social distancing is necessary, especially in places with high-risk people like assisted living communities. Even if there wasn’t a pandemic going on, virtual gatherings are a great idea when you can’t be there in person. The technology is far more affordable and user-friendly than it once was.
Your loved one can hear and see friends and family through video calls. It’s also a great way to give them the opportunity to interact with relatives who may be visiting from far away and may not be able to stop by and say hi.
Make New Traditions and Create Lasting Memories
If you can still engage in old traditions, do so. In the meantime, try introducing some new things. New traditions mean opportunities to create lasting memories. It will give you loved one something to look forward to this year and every year after.
Traditions can include things like coming to decorate their room, baking together, seasonal craft projects, or filling out holiday cards together.
Give Your Loved One a Special Gift
This is a great time to look for a special gift for your loved one. Try coming up with something that will have meaning that they can cherish and enjoy. What it is will vary depending on their situation and interests.
You could create a keepsake with a framed photo that they can display in their room or a special photo album with a note from each family member. Give them something cozy to use or wear, like a warm blanket or winter hat.
Plan Holiday Outings if Possible
This one may not be possible for everyone. If your loved one has a good level of mobility and doesn’t have any serious health conditions or concerns, you may be able to take them on short outings. Plan things that won’t be too strenuous. For example, going out and chopping down a holiday tree may be a bit much. However, coming home to decorate the tree might work.
You could also look for places that do drive-through light displays. These are fun, festive, and require minimal physical activity. Even coming home for the afternoon to watch a holiday movie with the grandkids can be a great outing!
Be There for Your Senior This Holiday Season
The holidays can be rough when loved ones cannot be present. Be there for your senior and include them as much as you can in the celebration. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and there are many fun and festive ways to bring holiday cheer to the older adults in your life this year.