4 Easy Ways to Create Holiday Memories with Your Senior Loved Ones
With each passing year, you’ve probably become more and more aware of how precious time with your senior loved ones really is. However, with the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it can be easy to overlook the importance of – and benefits from – spending quality, engaged time with your older family members during what’s most likely one of your busiest times of the year.
Don’t worry, with a little bit of brainstorming and buy-in from the whole family, you can easily interject some fresh new holiday ideas into this year’s holiday celebration. Below are four ways to have truly enjoyable holidays while simultaneously forming new memories with the entire family.
1. Create a new tradition
This can be as simple as taking the entire family to a church service or taking a scenic drive to see neighborhood Christmas lights. You could spend some time singing carols as a family or filling out holiday cards to send to servicemen or people living in nursing homes. The main point, however, is to ensure it is something the entire family can do together, from your seniors to your children. If you can think outside the box, keep a positive attitude, and approach a new experience with an open mind, you might be surprised at how much your family enjoys the new tradition and will look forward to it for years to come.
2. Involve everyone in the prep.
Seniors, especially those with the beginning stages of memory loss or with trouble communicating, often get relegated to the living room, sitting on the couch quietly, watching tv or just waiting. Why not break all your holiday meal or gathering preparation into smaller tasks that can be shared among all age groups, from the youngest to the oldest? Older adults can help by folding napkins or filling drink glasses with ice, or perhaps something more involved like teaching a younger person how to prepare a favorite holiday dish. By pairing up the generations, you can spark conversations, memories, and help build relationships.
3. Dig up some memories
Holiday gatherings are an excellent time to reminisce about happy holidays of the past. Set aside some time to pull out old photo albums or even videos to spark precious memories and recollections. Your younger guests will enjoy hearing your senior loved ones talk about what life was like when they were young, or their favorite holiday memory. Be sure to remove all pressure from the situation, especially if your loved one is experiencing memory loss. But you may be surprised at how photos, videos, and even music can bring back wonderful memories that your senior loved one is happy to share.
4. Spend quality time together
If your senior loved one is active, encourage them to get out and about with the grandkids or youth of the family. There are many fun and creative ways for the generations to spend time together, including:
- Going shopping for gifts for the grandkids to give to other members of the family
- Visiting special holiday light venues, like local zoos or parks
- Attending holiday plays and performances, like the Nutcracker
- Caroling around the neighborhood or the complex
- Volunteering together at a toy drive or food pantry
- Watching a local parade or participating in a holiday fun-run or walk
- Visiting a live nativity scene that incorporate real animals and actors
As you make your plans and start creating your new holiday traditions, be sure to keep your senior loved ones in mind, and monitor them closely to ensure they are not getting overwhelmed or too tired. Some situations involving young children may require additional supervision and assistance, so keep that in mind as well. But more importantly, remember that the extra effort you’re putting into creating new holiday experiences will be well worth it for you and your family for years to come. Today’s new tradition just might be tomorrow’s favorite holiday memory.