Sentimental Seniors - How to Celebrate the Holidays Together

Sentimental Seniors – How to Celebrate the Holidays Together

The holidays are “the most wonderful time of the year,” right? And yet, for many seniors holidays can be a time of nostalgia, grief, and even confusion.

Whether your sentimental senior loved ones are struggling with the grief or nostalgia of times and people gone-by, or memory loss has altered their ability to participate and relate the way they used to, the following suggestions will help you celebrate the holidays in a more positive and connected way.

Honor their experience

The interplay between you, senior parents, grandparents and loved ones is best served by honoring their experience. If they’re having an emotionally difficult time this year, do your utmost to be present with that – something that’s easier said than done.

If you aren’t the most communicative or touchy-feely person, keep it simple by using something like the following phrases:

  • “I can imagine it’s difficult to feel celebratory when you’re still grieving the loss of ….”
  • “I can see you’re really (insert the relevant emotion) sad/angry/frustrated/mourning how different things are now from what you’re used to.”
  • “You are loved and we are looking forward to have you with us, and that doesn’t change, even when you’re not feeling as cheerful as you’d like.”

It may not change anything, or you may be surprised at how honoring a senior’s emotional experience will shift their perspective.

Make seniors feel wanted and useful

There’s a lot to do when hosting or socializing during holiday gatherings, so seniors can feel shoved to the wayside if you’re not careful.

Before the gathering, brainstorm ideas to make your loved one feel useful, needed and wanted. This could include things like:

  • Reading a story to the younger children to keep them occupied and out of mischief
  • Have everyone bring their photo albums to peruse together – there’s a good chance the same grandparent who struggles to remember immediate family members will be the best resource when it comes to identifying who’s who in the black-and-whites.
  • Think of an art/craft project they can do with the little ones
  • Setting the table with a family member they’re close to
  • Enlist them in part of the meal prep – especially if it’s one of their favorite recipes or a dish they were known for
  • Have them tell you some stories of their favorite holiday memories while you prep the meal
  • Asking for help – even if you don’t really need it – doing something you know they’re capable of
  • Have some of the family members offer a game of cards or a board game they love

Enlist the help of a driver to bring them to/from events (possibly for shorter time-frames)

Being transported to/from holiday events minimizes fatigue and nighttime driving risks. If your senior loved one lives alone, or has dementia or Alzheimer’s, an energetic family gathering can be overwhelming – in which case a shorter time span makes more sense for their visit.

Consult with the family and see who is willing to pick your loved one(s) up shortly before the meal or dessert and gifts, and return them home when they’re ready to avoid them getting overtired.

Sing holiday songs

Print free copies of the standard holiday favorites and pass them out. This is something every age can get into, and even if your senior loved one isn’t able to follow along, s/he will enjoy sitting back and listening to the revelry.

The team at Care to Stay Home wishes you and your family a peaceful holiday season. We’re here to help in any way we can, whether it be driving your senior loved one to and from special holiday events or ensuring they’re kept company if long-distances keep you apart.