Celebrating Holidays with Seniors in Assisted Living
Even when our loved ones don’t live at home with us, we can bring the joys of the season to our senior family members with holiday visits, outings and celebrations
When the holiday season rolls around at the end of the year, the mayhem of cooking, entertaining and shopping often overshadows our chance to spend quality down time with loved ones. Senior living communities are making it fun and easy for families and staff to enjoy holiday celebrations without all the hassle by hosting a wide range of seasonal activities right there at the community, from Thanksgiving turkey dinners to Christmas breakfasts to toasts to ring in the New Year.
Avoiding Senior Isolation During the Holidays
In addition to enabling families to celebrate and relax together without all the pesky cleanup afterward, holiday events help seniors avoid isolation during the winter months. Particularly in inclement weather, which tends to keep people indoors, seniors are in danger of becoming isolated, lonely, or even depressed. Dangerous travel conditions, like ice and snow, can keep seniors from shopping and socializing outside of the home, and it can also keep visitors from being able to reach them.
In fact, isolation brings with it a number of mental and physical health risks for aging adults.
Both social isolation and loneliness have been associated with increased mortality in seniors, an increased risk of long-term illnesses and higher blood pressure. Isolated seniors are also at higher risk of elder abuse, without loved ones to look in on them now and then. The holidays, of course, are prime time for visiting, and that helps keep isolation in check.
Bringing Holiday Cheer to Your Senior Loved Ones
Besides the many events organized by senior communities, there are numerous ways to share the holiday spirit with older loved ones, whether they reside at home or in senior living. Here are just a handful of ideas for activities that families can share as a group:
- Attend a performance of holiday-themed music or dance, such as “The Nutcracker”
- Organize an informal Christmas carol sing-along
- Create a family scrapbook with mementos and photos
- Throw a holiday-card party: assign everyone a task, such as writing out addresses, stuffing envelopes, or decorating cards with stickers
- Have a cookie-baking and decorating party
- For loved ones that live far away, organize a virtual visit over Skype or FaceTime