At Simplify Senior Living, we pride ourselves on finding ways to help our senior clients find happiness throughout the year. Whether it is through meaningful companionship, getting a little fresh air, or a nice hot cup of coffee. We are always looking for ways to increase joy for those we serve. We know that the holidays can be hectic, and more than a little bit stressful, especially for our seniors and their loved ones. The most wonderful time of the year can be a struggle, if you are caring for a loved one who is not able to participate in family traditions exactly how they used to.
Don’t be discouraged! You can bring joy and light into the season in ways that will be meaningful to everyone. We have assembled our best tips and tricks for helping make the season merry, and including seniors in the joy and festivities of the holidays.
Want to increase your holiday happiness? Try these ten things…
- Decorate, even if the space is small. A treasured menorah, a small Christmas tree, or a festive string of lights can put anyone in the mood to celebrate! Don’t overdo it, though. Avoid clutter, noisy decorations, and blinking bulbs.
- Take pictures. In the days to come, you’ll treasure these reminders of the times you spent with those you love. Pull out old photos too, and spark some conversation about holidays gone by.
- Make new traditions. Don’t fret if cookie baking or latke making are no longer possible. There are dozens of ways to connect through tactile projects. For instance; create a scrapbook with photos and recipes, decorate Christmas stockings, have a game night, or just hold hands and talk about ways you are thankful for the season. Focus on the activity and don’t worry too much about the outcome. The time spent together is the important thing.
- Include your loved one in giving back to the community. Is a local church or organization collecting canned goods, hats and gloves, or toys? Try getting involved by sorting or wrapping them together with your loved one before donating them. This can be a fun project for the whole family.
- Give the gift of music. A love of music is often preserved in Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia because brain areas linked to musical memory remain relatively undamaged by disease. Music can relieve stress, reduce anxiety and depression, ease agitation, and provide a way for you to connect with a loved one who has difficulty communicating. Try making a playlist of the songs your loved one may remember from their youth, their wedding, or other significant times in their lives.
- Put family and friends first. Being in the company of those you care about, and those who care about you, turns out to be a positive predictor of our happiness around the holidays. It can be a real mood-booster for caregivers especially. If you are celebrating the holiday in a care facility, ask the staff if you can use a location where you won’t be disturbed, or ask if you can participate in planned activities along with the other residents.
- Know your (and your loved one’s) limits. Celebrate in familiar spaces, coach visitors ahead of time about how to best communicate with your loved one, and keep outings short and gatherings small. Try to adhere to routines like mealtimes and bedtimes. Make sure to build in quiet time to regroup and recharge.
- Delegate responsibilities so you can spend quality time with your loved one. Allow family and friends to bring food to a gathering instead of making everything yourself. Take a neighbor up on their offer to go grocery shopping for you. Hand off those things that don’t really matter so you can focus on the things that do.
- Let go of perfection. There may have been a time when your holidays were picture-perfect. The table setting, the candles, the gifts—all worthy of a spread in Good Housekeeping. But try to remember that beautiful memories are created by beautiful feelings, not beautiful things.
- Connect to the meaning of the holiday. Creating an atmosphere that allows everyone to participate in the festivities is the most important thing. Focus on the traditions and activities that are important to you and your loved ones. Leave the rest—and the stress—behind. Consider it your gift to yourself!
When the last present has been unwrapped and the last cookie has been eaten, the memories we make together will live on. Even though it may be more difficult logistically for seniors, the effort to allow them to participate in holiday festivities will mean a lot. When we spend quality time with seniors, and make an effort to connect with them, they are able to lead longer and healthier lives. If in-person visiting is not possible for any reason, make sure to connect over the phone or via video calls. The effort shows that you care and are willing to take time just for their benefit.
If you or someone you know require some extra help and companionship this holiday season, give us a call. We love helping to improve quality of life for our clients during the holidays and all year round.