Celebrating the Holidays With Seniors in Assisted Living

Even when our parents or senior loved ones don’t live at home with us, we can still bring the joys of the season to them with holiday celebrations and visits.Celebrating the Holidays With Seniors in Assisted Living

Senior living communities are making it easy for families, residents and staff to enjoy holiday celebrations without all the hassle by hosting a wide range of seasonal activities right there at the community, from Christmas breakfasts to toasts to ring in the New Year. Learn more about celebrating the holidays with seniors in assisted living.

Avoiding Senior Isolation Over the Holidays

In addition to enabling families to celebrate and relax together without all the pesky cleanup afterward, holiday events help seniors avoid isolation during the winter months.

Inclement weather can keep people indoors, which puts seniors at a greater risk of becoming depressed, isolated or lonely. Dangerous travel conditions like ice and snow can also keep seniors from shopping and socializing outside of the home and it can keep visitors from being able to reach them.

In fact, isolation brings with it a number of mental and physical health risks for aging adults.

Both isolation and loneliness have been associated with increased mortality in seniors, an increased risk of higher blood pressure and long-term illnesses. Isolated seniors are also at higher risk of elder abuse, without loved ones to look in on them now and then.

The holidays are prime time for visiting, which helps keep senior isolation in check.

Bringing Holiday Cheer to Parents and Senior Loved Ones

Besides the many events organized by senior living communities, there are numerous ways to share the holiday spirit with senior loved ones in assisted living.

Here are just a handful of ideas for activities that families can share as a group:

  • Attend a performance of holiday-themed dance or music, such as “The Nutcracker”
  • Create a family scrapbook with mementos and photos
  • For loved ones that live far away, organize a virtual visit over FaceTime or Skype
  • Have a cookie-baking and decorating party
  • Organize an informal Christmas carol sing-along
  • Throw a holiday-card party: assign everyone a task, such as decorating cards with stickers, stuffing envelopes or writing out addresses

Celebrating the Holidays With Seniors in Assisted Living

Senior living communities provide a variety of organized and planned activities for the holidays and most, if not all, of these activities are family-friendly, welcoming loved ones of all ages for festivities, food and fun.

We contacted several of our partner communities and these are just a sampling of the holiday events they have in store:

  1. Elmcroft of Hendersonville, Tennessee really got into the holiday spirit this year during their open house, which featured “heavy hors-d’oeuvres” as well as live music, family pictures with Santa and a resident’s art exhibit. They also invite local schools to perform holiday programs and caroling throughout December.
  2. Elmcroft of Halls in Knoxville, Tennessee held a Festival of Wreaths earlier in December, which featured wine and hors-d’oeuvres, milk and cookies, and a silent auction of holiday wreaths to benefit the local Alzheimer’s Association.
  3. Elmcroft of Twin Hills, also in Tennessee, is hosting a Christmas Celebration breakfast on December 20 with plenty of fun for the grandkids, including pony rides and photos with Santa.
  4. Santa also visited senior living at the Elmcroft of West Knoxville, Tennessee on December 6 for a breakfast of French toast sticks, muffins and doughnuts.
  5. Sunrise at River Road in Tucson, Arizona, holds an annual tree lighting as well as a menorah lighting, with family, residents and staff all invited to share a hot toddy and enjoy the celebration. They’re also holding a masquerade open house on New Year’s Eve.

Individual establishments may choose to celebrate a variety of holidays in an assortment of ways, but what all these events have in common is that they put the community in “senior living community” — encouraging families and the general public to mingle and socialize with elders and one another — which is what the holiday spirit is really about.

Caitlin Burm is an award-winning editor and writer who has written extensively about education, health and senior care, most recently at A Place for Mom and previously at Arizona State University and the City of Tempe, Arizona. She thrives on content strategy and storytelling and resides in Phoenix with her daughter and husband.


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