When the holidays are right around the corner, there is always buzz about family recipes for the perfect pumpkin pie or the ultimate mashed potatoes. Folks are searching online for new appetizer ideas and stocking up on ingredients like cream cheese, powdered sugar and other holiday recipe must-haves. But no matter what kind of special meals you have planned, one of the most important ingredients of all is family. Having the entire family together can be a challenge during the holidays especially when you have senior relatives. Here’s the perfect recipe for how to make the holidays special for elderly family members.
One Cup Of Understanding:
When you have an aged parent or family member, you need to understand that their holiday experience may be different than what you have anticipated. They may be missing a life partner or others that have passed. They may have physical or mental limitations that frustrate them and restrain what they can do. You will need to stop and think about what they may be going through, listen to them when they want to reminisce about holidays memories or loved ones, and empathize with them when it comes to their emotions and capabilities.
Two Scoops Of Patience
We all get excited during the holidays and find ourselves rushing around to shop and wrap, cook and clean. All of this can be a bit overwhelming for an elderly family member who is used to a regular daily routine. And, it can be especially overstimulating if they are living with dementia. It’s important to respect their routine and keep it in mind as you plan for celebrations and family gatherings. Be patient with your senior relatives, consider their normal sleeping and eating patterns and let them join in when they are able without all of the rushing and overstimulation.
A Dash Of Awareness
Sometimes seniors are afraid to ask for help because they don’t want to be a burden, so be aware of this and offer to help them first. Even if you are busy, share your time by doing holiday tasks together with them like decorating, shopping, baking or sending out holiday cards to their friends. Because the holidays are often one of times when distant family members visit, it may be the first time that you are noticing or explaining an elderly family member’s recent decline. Keep your eyes open and see if they are needing additional support or care and if it’s time to have a conversation with your family about their continued care.
A Quart Of Consideration
Being considerate is one of the best holiday gifts that you can give. Consider whether your elderly family members can host a family event before assuming you will have it at their home. If they do host it, offer to help them grocery shop, decorate, cook and clean up. Another important consideration for seniors is if there are certain health conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure and if the menu needs to be tailored to any of these.
And, A Pinch Of Inclusion
Last, but definitely not least – make sure to include your elderly family member in your special holiday plans and celebrations. Bake their favorite recipes with them, watch a favorite classic holiday movie together, and play the songs from their generation. If travel or changes in routine seem too stressful, consider bring the holiday celebrations to them. Many senior facilities like The Gardens at Oasis and Oasis Dementia Care have rooms that families can reserve for group gatherings. Also, check to see when holiday activities are planned and ask if you can attend. At the Oasis, our holiday offerings include movies, entertainment, games and crafts. It can be a great opportunity for family members to meet the staff and their relative’s new friends.