The holidays are meant to be a joyous time, and for most of us, they are. Many elders, however, feel isolated and unhappy during this time of year, and the pandemic hasn’t made that any easier. Senior loved ones have often suffered losses that increase their feelings of isolation and sadness during the holiday season. Loved ones and friends have passed away; energy and mobility levels have decreased, leaving many seniors feeling less independent and less capable of ordinary activities.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, socially isolated older adults are at higher risk for depression. The focus on family, friends, and togetherness during this time of year can actually bring melancholy feelings to the forefront for many elders, so it's important to be supportive of and attentive to our senior loved ones, keeping them involved and feeling useful. Here are a few senior care solutions that can help make the holidays more pleasant for your senior!
Involve the Generations
If you're lucky enough to be part of a multi-generational family, the holidays are the perfect time to celebrate that. Grandparents, aunts, and uncles are wonderful resources for younger family members to turn to for stories about the past and memories about life before the internet (if any of us can remember that!). Encourage your senior loved one to reminisce about the times that meant something to him or her and make sure to let them know you value their time and their perspective.
Get Out the Old Photos
Photos are often meaningful documentation of lives well-lived and of people well-loved. Bring them out this holiday season and let your senior loved one share their memories of what the images have captured. Seeing old photos and reliving old memories may be an emotional experience for a senior — or even for younger members of a family — but it’s important to let those emotions be and to let your senior have them. Ultimately, these feelings can confirm important and meaningful experiences.
Prepare a Family Recipe
Most families have traditions, and they very often involve recipes. Your senior loved one may have been, or may still be, the cook in the family, the one who prepared those special dishes for those special times. One way to make the holidays senior-friendly is to let him or her do that again, and if they aren’t quite physically up to the task, encourage a younger family member to help. That way, the tradition can be learned by a newer member of the family, to be passed on and enjoyed.
Sing Some Favorite Holiday Songs
If there are musicians in your family, now is the time to engage them! Maybe it's your senior loved one who is that talented one in the family. Whoever it may be, take the time during the holidays to make some good noise. Gather around a piano or a guitar and sing some favorite carols, dance to some favorite tunes, and encourage your elder loved one to take part. Singing is good for the body, and the psyche, so don't shy away from it, even if you feel like you might not be a Frank Sinatra or a Taylor Swift!
To find out more about other ways to engage your senior loved one this season, reach out to Senior Care Authority.