If your aging loved ones are already residing in an assisted living community, chances are they look forward to seeing visiting family members at any point throughout the year. Visiting our elderly loved ones reminds them that we love them; that we care about their wellbeing and want them to stay happy and content.
The holidays can be a particularly difficult time for the elderly, especially to those no longer living in their own homes. They may feel nostalgic to the point of getting emotional, perhaps feeling like they are missing out on long-standing family traditions.
There are more benefits to visiting aging loved ones in assisted living communities than you might be aware of, especially throughout the holiday season. Not only does our presence reassure them that we are thinking about them and want to include them in as many family activities as possible, but we can also encourage them to take part in the holiday celebrations and events offered by the assisted living community. Staying socially connected to their peers is so important in warding off isolation that can lead to loneliness and depression. Social isolation can also be directly related to cognitive decline and even increased mortality.
Celebrating the Holidays in Assisted Living Communities
As the holiday season approaches, keep your aging loved ones in mind. Set designated times to visit, and plan to take part in some festivities with them. Here are just a few ways to help celebrate the holidays with loved ones in assisted living:
- Attend holiday events within the assisted living community and outside of it, too. Assisted living communities plan numerous events and activities throughout the holiday season to keep residents engaged and active. If your loved one is mobile enough, you can even consider attending holiday events out on the town, too, like going to a theater performance or tree lighting
- Decorate their room. The assisted living community is your loved one’s home, and their living space should reflect that. Bring in decorations they remember from the past to adorn their room in memories of happy times.
- Help them with holiday cards. Writing out holiday cards is a tradition many seniors enjoy. Help them address and seal envelopes and offer to drop them in the mail.
- Bring in some favorite treats. Your loved one might reminisce about a certain food or dessert they always enjoyed during the holidays. Even though assisted living communities offer delicious meals and all sorts of goodies to residents, your loved one probably has a favorite from their past. You can even consider having your loved one help you bake or cook by dictating the recipe.
- Look at old photos. Create a scrap book or photo album of holiday photos from years gone by. Or, create a digital slideshow you can easily bring in and share on a tablet or laptop. Looking at photos is one of the best ways to bring back memories, even for those suffering from dementia.
Visiting loved ones in assisted living communities over the holiday season should be an enjoyable time for everyone involved. It’s a time for us to remember that the season is about more than shopping and rushing from one place to the next; it’s about spending time with those we hold dear.