Making the Holidays Merry and Bright for Seniors – Even from Afar

Senior exchanging holiday gifts

While the holiday season is a time of joyous anticipation and good cheer for most of us, the holidays can also bring a sense of loss and sadness for some senior adults. These feelings can result from the effects of aging and illness, or the sense of loneliness and isolation that accompany the loss of a spouse. 

Even for the most physically and emotionally healthy seniors, it is essential to remember that your love, presence and involvement with them during the holiday season can be the most meaningful gift they receive.

Says Janet McNemar, NHA, MBA, Executive Director at Bryn Mawr Terrace located in Bryn Mawr, PA, “As the holiday season approaches, think about the many ways you can brighten the lives of the most important seniors in your life. Whether it’s baking cookies, decorating the tree or taking a drive to see the colorfully lighted homes and shops, the time you spend together will be time well spent!”

Tips to Make the Holiday Season Special for the Seniors in Your Life

Carol Bradley Bursack, author, speaker, columnist and senior care consultant, says, “Our elders used to be in charge of making the holidays merry while the younger generations were the focus. But as our elders age and begin to lose their abilities, the holiday responsibilities increasingly fall to us.”

As adult children, it is now our turn to ensure that our elders enjoy the holidays. You can start by making sure your senior loved ones feel valued and including them in whatever ways they can participate.

Carol offers some useful tips from her article, Making the Holidays Special for Your Elders No Matter Where They Live that can make the holiday season special for the seniors in your life. 

Some examples include:

  1. Play favorite holiday music while you decorate together.
  2. Use your senior loved one’s most treasured holiday decorations and talk about each piece.
  3. Accompany them if they are able to go shopping for holiday gifts. If not, do their holiday shopping for them if you can.
  4. Bake holiday cookies and other treats with your senior loved one and use some of their favorite recipes.
  5. Look through family photo albums together and view home movies and videos of happy holidays past.
  6. Encourage your elders to tell stories from their younger days, which will enrich your family history, especially for their grandchildren. Reminiscence is also considered a useful form of therapy for aging seniors.
  7. Involve your senior loved one in sending holiday cards and assist them with cards to their friends if they have difficulty writing. 
  8. Encourage your children to engage with your elders during the holidays. Intergenerational relationships can lift seniors’ spirits.
  9. Invite your elders to help you prepare the holiday meal at your home. You can also consider having the holiday gathering at your elders’ home if that would make them happy. Just be sure it would not create more work for them.

If You Can’t Be with Them for the Holidays

Janet adds, “If you are unable to be with your aging loved one(s) for the holidays, it is still very important to stay closely connected with them. This is particularly crucial for an aging parent who is living alone. For them, isolation and loneliness can be precursors for serious physical and emotional health issues.” 

“Remember, your parents gave you love, care and protection as a child and the holidays are a perfect time to return the favor. If you can’t be with them this holiday season, consider the following suggestions.”  

  1. Arrange for video chats via smartphone or Skype so they can see you as well as hear you. Video chats will provide a much more personal and pleasant experience for both of you.
  2. Plan to call them several times over the holidays and share pictures and family news, as well as discussing activities, hobbies and topics of interest.
  3. Use this FaceTime to also take stock of how your parent(s) are doing. Do they look healthy and well groomed? Do they seem upbeat or are they feeling blue? 
  4. Ask them about their plans for the holidays and whether they will be spending time with others. 
  5. Ask a neighbor to look in on them and let you know what they observe. Is your senior loved one’s home being maintained? Is there clutter and unopened mail piling up? Are there fall hazards or other potential dangers?
  6. Be sure to send your gifts so they will receive them on time.
  7. Most importantly, tell them you love them and assure them that you’ll always be there for them if they are ever in need.

For more helpful senior living and senior care information, we invite you to read our monthly articles and tips on a variety of important senior health topics. We also welcome you to stop in for a tour to see for yourself why we’ve been rated “Best in Senior Care.”

We’d Love to Hear Your Thoughts!

If you have comments or questions about our blog, Making the Holidays Merry & Bright for Seniors – Even from Afar, we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences with us in our comments section.

A Healthy Tradition of Care and Wellness

 There are times when the challenges associated with advanced age, a prolonged illness or a chronic condition make 24-hour care and support a necessity. At Bryn Mawr Terrace, we’re always here for you and your family. Our compassionate, professional team treats our residents as family and respects each of them as the individuals they are, all with their own unique life story.

 We understand that each one of our residents has unique needs and desires, so we deliver personalized care and services that are tailored to each individual. The amenities and activities offered within our community are designed to keep our residents happy, fulfilled and living well. From delicious dining to a variety of social programming, we offer a lifestyle that’s meant to be lived!

 Located near Bryn Mawr Hospital, Bryn Mawr Terrace – part of Main Line Senior Care Alliance – has provided exceptional care and services to seniors and their families since 1966. It’s a tradition we’re proud to continue.

 Today, Bryn Mawr Terrace serves as a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), offering a range of services – including Short-Term RehabilitationTraditional Nursing CareIndependent Living, Personal CareMemory CareRestorative Care and Respite Care – all in a setting that is warm, welcoming and nurturing. 

For more information on Bryn Mawr Terrace and our variety of needs-based lifestyle services, please call us at 610.525.8300 or contact us online.

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Bryn Mawr Terrace and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.

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