‘Tis the season for gatherings, family traditions, and favorite holiday dishes. But, if your elderly loved one lives in an assisted living community, you might be wondering how to navigate the holiday season. Hold on to family traditions and make new ones that include your family member in assisted living with these helpful tips.
- Decorate their senior living apartment together. Spend fun quality time with your loved one by decorating their assisted living apartment together. Bring a few of their favorite holiday decorations from years past to make the place feel more like home. And, create new memories by creating new decorations with the kids and grandkids with easy hobby-store craft projects suitable for everyone. Be sure to consider safety needs for an older person whose sight and mobility may be diminished, and stay away from any candles, holiday incense or other fire hazards.
- Create a family visits schedule. With COVID protocols in place, you may not be able to join scheduled resident activities this year, but you can still visit and enjoy the holiday cheer together. Create a family holiday calendar and coordinate visits with other family members to avoid overwhelming your senior with too many visitors at once, and to be sure your loved one feels loved at a time that can feel quite lonely for many seniors. If you live in another city, inquire about on-site accommodations. Many assisted living communities have guestrooms for out-of-town family members, often complimentary or available for a suggested donation, to allow residents and visitors more quality time together.
- Enjoy holiday events or celebrations together. If your loved one’s health and mobility allows, take them gift shopping, and to religious services, a holiday performance, a family gathering at home or a restaurant, or on a tour of holiday lights and decorations. Make sure to discuss any care concerns with the staff and your loved one before you confirm plans, including medication management, especially if you’re considering an overnight stay. If your loved one is not able to come home for the holidays, consider opening a few gifts at their retirement apartment, so they can partake in the joy of seeing grandchildren unwrap presents and enjoy holiday games and treats (and children have the opportunity to give to others).
- Enjoy a holiday meal together. If your loved one is unable to join you at your home, consider planning a holiday meal at their place and treat them to their favorite family recipes. Make sure to discuss any dietary concerns with the assisted living dietician – easy swaps are often possible to make that family favorite a fit for an aging body’s unique dietary needs.
Whether your loved one is able to come home for the holidays or their care requires they remain at their assisted living community throughout the season, you can still use these precious days to keep family traditions alive and make the most of the season for the whole family.