While the holidays can be filled with stress and be completely overwhelming, people generally have special memories of holidays past whether its the memory of kids opening gifts on Christmas morning or the large family gatherings around a robust turkey at Thanksgiving. Whatever memory it is, as everyone gets older the relationship between parent and child has a tendency to reverse. Elder friends and family, especially around the holidays, need to continue to feel they are a vital part of a family. Take the time to consider how to nurture the elderly during this holiday season and continue to make new memories.
Ways to Include Elders in the Celebration
- Make plans to decorate with the help of your elder. Play music and offer warm beverages to encourage the festive atmosphere.
- Make the activities multi-generational as much as possible.
- Share moments discussing heirloom decorations while placing them on the tree or around the home.
- Offer to help them write and mail their holiday cards. This can be a great opportunity to share family stories while providing real practical assistance.
- Look for signs of sadness or a desire for isolation and be prepared to offer alternatives to make your elder friends and family feel relevant.
- Be the holiday host so that your elder family members can enjoy a celebration without the burden of the work that goes with it. And let them help when they ask–those that desire to be nurturers don’t just shut off that aspect of their character.
- Offer to shop and wrap gifts they want to present to their friends and family.
- If your parent or friends live in assisted living or a nursing home, scale down the activities but definitely still do them. Help them to create a home-like atmosphere with some of their very own family treasures.
Reaching out to elder friends and family over the holidays can make a huge difference in how they continue day to day. Make every effort to accommodate their needs and make them feel like a relevant part of your life.