Spending time with the people we love is at the heart of the holidays, and many look forward to family gatherings and time-honored holiday traditions all year long. However, if you have an older parent or loved one who has recently moved into a senior living community, holiday celebrations may look a little different than in years past. You may be wondering about the best ways to make the holidays fun, festive, and meaningful while ensuring the seniors in your life feel loved and included.
We have some tips to help you share the holiday spirit and make the holidays extra special for loved ones in a senior living community:
#1: Make use of technology
Technology has been a lifeline for people of all ages throughout the pandemic, with many using video calls to stay in touch with friends, family, and colleagues. At Bethany Village, our staff has been helping residents use tablets and other technology to connect with their loved ones, and we have a few tips to make “virtual visits” as easy and smooth as possible this holiday season:
- Keep it short and sweet – Keep in mind that some older adults aren’t used to looking at screens, and may become tired more quickly than younger family members. Try to keep calls to about twenty to thirty minutes to make your time together enjoyable, not overwhelming.
- Set the scene – Do your best to have video calls in a brightly-lit area with minimal background noise and distractions. This way, your loved one will be able to hear and see you clearly!
- Plan one-on-one time – While everyone at your holiday gathering may want to talk to Grandma or Grandpa at once, it can be difficult for older adults to see and hear a large group of people on a small screen. Instead of trying to show everyone at once, have each family member dedicate a few minutes for a one-on-one chat. Focusing on just one person at a time can be easier for your older loved ones, and will provide an opportunity for more meaningful conversations.
#2: Deck the halls
The holidays are a festive time in senior living communities like Bethany Village, with community events ranging from holiday-themed happy hours, arts and crafts, games, and meals, to special holiday music, choir, and dance performances. Common areas of the community will be decorated to celebrate the season, but residents may also enjoy displaying cheerful holiday décor in their own living spaces. There’s still time to help your loved one “deck the halls” of their residence by bringing or sending decorations such as a wreath or welcome mat, garlands, stockings, small faux trees or flower arrangements, and photos of past holiday gatherings.
#3: Send holiday cheer
Now is a perfect season to bring back the lost art of “snail mail” and surprise senior loved ones with a handmade card in their mailbox or a personalized care package filled with some of their favorite things. Thoughtful gifts like these don’t take much time or money, but they will go a long way in warming hearts. Another idea is to keep the joy of letter-writing going all year long by gifting your loved one a set of cards, envelopes, and stamps so they can keep in touch.
#4: Embrace new traditions
If your loved one is unable to travel or attend traditional family gatherings this year, try bringing the holiday spirit right to their senior living community! Consider setting up a rotation of family members to visit or call at different times throughout the week. During your visit, you could play holiday music or a favorite movie, put together a puzzle, play a game, or simply catch up over a cup of tea or hot cocoa. If your loved one lives independently, they may enjoy going out for a drive to look at holiday lights, shopping for gifts, or attending a holiday concert or play. Taking the time to connect and be present with your loved one is the best gift you can give. Be open to change, and you may end up creating a new favorite holiday tradition!
#5: Celebrate safely
It’s always important to be mindful of spreading germs and diseases, especially in the winter months when cold and flu season is at its peak. Additionally, with ongoing COVID-19 concerns, we’re all encouraged to do our part to stay vigilant and protect not only our health but the health of those around us. For example, reconsider large holiday parties in favor of smaller get-togethers or video calls. If you do plan to gather with others for the holidays, you may wish to verify the vaccination status of guests and consider testing before in-person visits. As a reminder, be sure to wash your hands frequently, cover coughs and sneezes, and avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and face.
Make the Season Bright
Thankfully, this holiday season should feel a bit brighter than last year, even if you still have to make a few compromises. Remember, there are many reasons to celebrate and give thanks for the loved ones in our lives! With a little planning and patience, you can make this holiday season just as special and memorable as ever.
If you’re caring for a senior loved one and need help before, during, or after the holidays, Bethany Village is here for you. Reach out today to learn more about our senior living options, including independent living, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing, as well as short-term senior rehabilitation, home health care, and assisted living respite care visits.
We’d be happy to answer any questions you have and help you find the right option for your loved one.
Happy holidays from all of us at Bethany Village!