The holiday season is a time filled with joy, generosity, and various festivities. However, as enjoyable as the holidays can be, they often come with stress and anxiety. Amidst all the planning, shopping, hosting, traveling, cooking, cleaning, and family gatherings, we often overlook the older members of our family. Yet, the holiday season is precisely the time when we should focus on what truly matters and rise to the challenge of including all family members in the festivities.
Here are some tips for including your elderly loved ones in these celebrations and helping them feel more comfortable during family gatherings:
Make sure to invite the older members of your family to family gatherings. Often, during the holiday season, elderly individuals can feel even more isolated. Inviting them to spend the holidays with you is the first step in combating their sense of loneliness. Once they are invited, ensure they are included in conversations. For example, it's crucial that those with hearing difficulties are seated away from background noise. Place them strategically near guests who will engage them in conversation and make them feel an integral part of family discussions.
You must adapt the holiday menu to your elder's dietary requirements. If this proves too complicated, consider preparing a personalized dish for them. Also, don't forget to remind them to take their medications. Being away from their usual routine, they might forget.
Dressing up a bit is part of the holiday spirit. Shortly before the arrival of other guests, visit your loved one's room to choose a comfortable yet elegant outfit with them. If needed, assist them in getting dressed. If they are feeling tired, suggest a short nap before the festivities begin.
Your grandparent may have fond memories of holidays from their childhood, and they might want to share them with the whole family. As we age, happy memories from our youth often bring comfort. Offering elderly family members an opportunity to share their childhood memories promotes positive emotions and strengthens intergenerational bonds.
Everyone wants to feel included in holiday preparations. If an older friend or family member has difficulty assisting with cooking due to physical limitations, they can still be encouraged to help with small tasks such as folding napkins or arranging flowers. When looking through photo albums, offer them a magnifying glass or a page-turner to make it easier for them to participate.
Make sure your home is not too cluttered, and there are no obstacles in the path of the elderly individuals you invite. As people age, they may experience balance problems, and a fall can have catastrophic effects. Clearing the path is of utmost importance. If you plan to host an elderly person for several nights, make sure you have everything they need for mobility, such as a cane, walker, or even a wheelchair, lift assist, or stairlift.
It's important to seat elderly family members in a location with easy access to the bathroom. Similarly, for their comfort, provide an anti-pressure sore cushion.
In the age of digital photography, where everyone takes selfies and instantly posts photos on various social media sites, it's essential to ensure that we capture images of all our guests so that no one feels left out. Take selfies with Aunt Bea and Grandpa Gerard and cherish these moments for years to come!
However, we advise against hosting a noisy party that doesn't align with the true spirit of Christmas and could disrupt and fatigue your loved one. Check the volume of the music and keep your guest list within close family boundaries. Christmas is a rather intimate and family-oriented celebration, unlike New Year's. Stay vigilant regarding their fatigue level; if you notice signs of tiredness or nervousness, try to assess their needs and respect them.
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