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Marissa Salvesen

By: Marissa Salvesen on December 2nd, 2014

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Making Holiday Memories With Your Aging Loved One

assisted living  |  aging parents  |  60-day stay trial  |  Aging & Caregiving

74283The holidays bring families together, but sometimes aging loved ones can feel disconnected during seasonal celebrations.

By identifying ways to engage your older loved ones, you can add an extra-special element to the holidays while also encouraging meaningful memories for both the young and young at heart.

Share Stories

Your older loved one may be known for handing out five dollar bills, but he/she has something even more valuable to share: stories. Encourage seniors to reflect on their childhood traditions. Incorporate old family photos, if possible. This not only helps them feel included, but also offers a worthwhile reminder that they’re an important part of the festivities.

Designate someone to write these stories down so they will last: whether you compile them into a scrapbook or create a digital slideshow, these chronicles are sure to become cherished family heirlooms.

Connect Generations

There’s nothing quite like the bond between a grandparent and grandchild. Prepare children for visits by talking in advance about any health challenges or cognitive limitations your loved one may be experiencing. Also remind kids that the older generation may not be familiar with the latest technology and may feel alienated by iPhones, video games and other electronics.

For many seniors, nothing brightens a day better than spending time with little ones.  

If your loved one lives in an assisted living community or long-term care facility, ask about activities that children can participate in with their loved ones. Many communities would be thrilled to have young visitors be part of their daily activities and/or holiday celebrations.

Deck Their Halls

Who doesn’t love the look and feel of twinkle lights and boughs of holly? If your loved one is suffering from a shortage of holiday spirit, it may be time to deck their halls. Enlist kids to help you select or make decorations to adorn your loved one’s living space. If he/she has a cherished ornament or decorative item, be sure to include it.

Bring the Party to Them

Crowded holiday parties can be overwhelming -- particularly for seniors suffering from cognitive impairment. Instead, arrange for visitors to come to them. Your loved ones will enjoy the opportunity to host family members and friends in a comfortable environment, whether they live at home or in an assisted living community. Many senior living communities have shared holiday meals or gathering rooms where larger sized groups can get-together. If your parent is always known for giving out special treats, be sure to have plenty on hand.

Get Crafty

Children and seniors make wonderful crafting companions. Select a craft that is within your loved one’s capabilities. For example, if he/she suffers from arthritis, don’t pick a project that requires the ability to manipulate small objects. Working together while decorating photo frames or making ornaments strengthens bonds while offering a sense of fulfillment.

Retail Therapy

While a midnight Black Friday shopping trip may not be possible, your aging loved one can still participate in gift-giving. Encourage seniors to select their own gifts for grandchildren and other family members from catalogs and online retailers. Designate an afternoon to spend time wrapping the gifts together.

Key Takeaways

  • Bringing together multiple generations during the holidays can help promote meaningful connections.
  • Consider your loved one’s comfort and capabilities when planning visits and activities.
  • While seniors may have new limitations, incorporating a few key traditional elements can help the season still feel special.

About Marissa Salvesen

My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!

Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.