Relatives travel from near and far to spend time with their loved ones during the holiday season but between the stress of traveling, the scramble to wraps the gifts, the shopping and time required to prepare the meals and visiting with everyone, the holidays can be exhausting for anyone.
Your family tradition may be for your mother, aunt or grandmother to host the holiday, cooking a large meal and decorating the home for season but it could be time to pass the hosting torch onto the next generation. Your mother, aunt or grandmother may not have the stamina she once had but she still wants to “keeping up the tradition.” Don’t disappoint her, imply try to incorporate these suggestions to help make the holidays happier and less stressful for everyone.
Divide and conquer. As we age, we lose stamina, and preparing for the holidays can be a lot of work. You may have noticed that the family matriarch or patriarch now needs more rest during and after the holidays, so everyone should help in the preparations. Nearby family members could help with the shopping, housework and decorating during the weeks leading up to the big event, while those who will only be visiting for the day could help with yard work, last minute food preparations and clean up.
Simplify your holiday. May senior adults have difficulty with their balance, motor skills and strength, so it might be best to scale down the decorations both inside and outside their home. Lights, ornaments and decorations certainly signal the holiday season but displaying everything, consider showcasing only the most prized keepsakes. It would also be very helpful to help put all the decorations away at the end of the day or season, particularly if there are heavy boxes or the storage space is in an attic or on high shelves.
Get more done in the morning. Both older adults and small children are generally more alter and better able to focus earlier in the day, so you may want to consider planning your activities to be held in the morning or early afternoon. Many seniors experience “sundowning” and the increased amount of activity and personal interactions during holiday season could result in higher levels of fatigue and confusion. Even if your family traditionally exchanged gifts, attended religious services and enjoyed the main meal during the late afternoon and evening hours, you might want to think about revising the timing of your celebrations this year.
Share stories and memories. While it is important to reduce physical and mental stress on your older family members, it is also important for your aging loved ones to feel involved in the activities. As you celebrate the holidays, consider asking the most senior family members to help you put together a list of favorite holiday songs so you can play them during holiday gathering. Familiar tunes may help evoke cherished memories as well as encourage the seniors to share their memories with their children and grandchildren.
Take a drive to see the neighborhood lights. Many seniors have difficulty driving at night, so why not give offer to take them for ride around town to view the holiday lights. Don’t worry about having a deep conversation, just play some holiday songs and spend some quality time together taking in the sights.
Don’t stress about making everything perfect this season, just make the holidays happier and enjoy your family time together this season!
When the time comes that you or a family member is no longer able to live independently, contact ElderLink to discuss the options and learn about assisted living services and facilities within California.