6 Tips for Celebrating Thanksgiving with Senior Loved Ones
Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, and we’re all looking forward to enjoying great food, time-honored traditions, and sharing time with loved ones near and far. Whether you’re visiting an older loved one in a senior living community or hosting a gathering at home, you might be wondering how to make this year’s celebration extra special for everyone.
Here are some great ways to make this Thanksgiving one to remember:
#1: Plan your time together in advance
Thoughtful planning will ensure your time with senior loved ones is as smooth and stress-free as possible. If you’re visiting a loved one in a senior living community, ask their caregivers about the best time to visit to avoid disrupting their routine. If you’re gathering together at home, offer to provide transportation so senior loved ones don’t need to worry about driving in the dark. In the event you’re unable to be together in person, there are always phone and video calls. Coordinate the best time to call or video chat ahead of time so everyone in the family can plan to join.
#2: Send a care package
Even if you can’t see senior loved ones in-person this Thanksgiving, you can still make their day by sending a special care package to their home or senior living community. Here are some examples of items to include in a Thanksgiving care package:
- Holiday décor, such as a wreath, door hanger, window cling, garland, or wall art
- Puzzle workbooks (large-print crosswords, Sudoku, and word search puzzles are popular!)
- Personal care items like hand soap, lotion, lip balm, hand sanitizer, or cosmetics.
- Books or magazines
- Comfortable winter clothing and accessories
- Seasonal snacks and treats (be sure to consider your loved one’s dietary needs and preferences)
No matter what you choose to include, a care package will show your loved one that you’re thinking about them this Thanksgiving!
#3: Bring games or crafts
Break out the classic board games, jigsaw puzzles, or cards, or try a round of charades to bring people of all ages together this Thanksgiving. Another idea is to plan a craft that family members can create together. Hand-drawn turkeys, DIY snow globes, and even family trees or scrapbooks are fun, easy options.
#4: Give thanks together
Giving thanks for our blessings is what Thanksgiving is all about, but did you know that gratitude also offers powerful health and wellness benefits? Research shows that practicing gratitude magnifies positive emotions that lead to more optimism and happiness, reduced stress, and stronger immunity. That’s a great reason to express gratitude all year long!
So, before you carve the turkey and dig into a bountiful Thanksgiving feast, ask your guests to share what they’re thankful for this year. You could even everyone a small piece of paper and pencil to write down what they’re grateful for and place the paper in a basket. As you sit down to eat, pass the basket around the table so everyone can draw and read another person’s paper. Sharing words of gratitude with friends and family can easily become a favorite Thanksgiving tradition!
#5: Share (and capture) memories
Thanksgiving is a perfect time to bond with family and learn more about our elders. When asked politely, many seniors love to share favorite stories about their family and life experiences. With today’s smartphones and tablets, it’s easier than ever to record audio and video so you can preserve these precious family memories for decades to come.
#6: Gather safely
As a reminder, it’s important to practice basic safety precautions to prevent the spread of germs and diseases. Not only is the COVID-19 an ongoing concern, but cold and flu season is here, too. Before your Thanksgiving get-together, you may wish to verify the vaccination status of guests and consider testing for COVID-19 before in-person visits. Another idea is to hold your gathering outdoors if the weather permits. Finally, always make sure to wash your hands frequently, especially when preparing meals and after touching your face.
Stay Positive and Present
Even if your Thanksgiving celebration looks a little different this year, there are still many reasons to give thanks. One of the best ways to show the seniors in our lives how much we appreciate them is to simply spend quality time together. Stay positive, and remember that your presence is a gift!
Visiting with senior loved ones during the holidays can also be a good opportunity to check up on their health and well-being. Are they still happy and safe living at home, or would they benefit from the convenient amenities, activities, and support offered in an assisted living community?
Having these important conversations early and often can help you and your loved one put a plan in place and explore different options together, including assisted living, assisted living memory care, and at-home health care.