The fast-paced days between Thanksgiving and New Year's can be overwhelming, but it's important not to lose sight of the reason for the season. This sentiment is no more applicable than when it comes to spending time with seniors during this busy time of year. Consider these five simple ways to take a break from the holiday hustle and spend invaluable time with your aging loved one this season.
Baking is fun and productive for both the young and young at heart.
1. Deck Their Halls
Whether your aging loved one is aging in place or lives in a retirement living community, there's no simpler way to spread holiday joy than by helping her decorate her home or apartment. Keep in mind that what may be a simple task for you can be a challenge for seniors suffering from declines in mobility and physical activity. Your decorating efforts can give your aging loved one's living space a festive feel.
And remember: You don't have to go overboard to make a difference. A small tree or even an ornament or two in a small space can have a big impact.
2. Bake Together
Baking is not only therapeutic for seniors, but can also be a simple way to connect with forgotten feelings related to the season. Whether you make a cherished family cookie recipe or start a new tradition of building gingerbread houses together, baking is both fun and functional: Your aging loved one will enjoy knowing that she's made a contribution to the holiday table.
If you're feeling ambitious -- and if your aging loved one is up to it -- bake up several batches of treats to share with friends and family as gifts.
Whenever possible, involve multiple generations. After all, there's no better way to lift the spirits than time spent with little ones during this special time of year.
3. Get Out and About
If your aging loved one is mobile, a trip to the local mall or a holiday craft fair can be a particularly festive way to celebrate. Christmas music, holiday decorations, and other tidings of the season offer contagious cheer.
This is also a convenient opportunity to help cross a few items off of your aging loved one's gift list.
4. Have Holiday Cheer, Will Travel
If your aging loved one isn't mobile, there are plenty of ways to bring the cheer to them while managing mutual expectations. Gather a group of friends, family members, and neighbors to carol throughout your aging loved one's senior living home. The best part of this gift? It has exponential impact. Not only will your aging loved one enjoy a burst of holiday cheer, but so will all of the other members of her community.
If caroling isn't possible, consider helping a senior in need with her holiday shopping in a new and exciting way: online. While technology can be intimidating to many seniors, your patience and guidance offers an enhanced feeling of connection to the surrounding world.
Time with family is often the greatest gift for aging loved ones.
5. Share and Listen
Sometimes the smallest gestures mean the most. For seniors who may be grieving people and memories of the past, the chance to share these feelings with others can be profound. Invite your aging loved one to talk about traditions from her youth, or to share a special song or other holiday-related childhood or family activity.
Just be sure to follow her lead: While talking about the past can be an invaluable way to connect and reminisce for some seniors, for others it can heighten feelings of loss.
While scheduling time out during the holidays for seniors can seem challenging, it's well worth the effort -- both for seniors and for the people who love them. Mmlearn.org offers a large library of free videos for caregivers of older adults, covering topics pertaining to senior care. Whether you are a healthcare professional or a family caregiver, if you are caring for an older adult we know that you will find mmlearn.org an essential learning and guidance tool for all of your caregiver training needs. For comprehensive content for caregivers, access our free database of online caregiver videos today.