Celebrating The Holidays in Senior Living
by Janelle Meyers, CSA, LALD
Are you overwhelmed or stressed about the upcoming holidays? If you are, you are not alone. Maybe you or a loved one recently moved into an assisted living, nursing home or other senior care facility. It wiill be different from past years. However, you can still maintain traditions. How do I hold on to those while meeting the needs of myself or someone I care about? There is good news. Traditions can be kept. Celebrating the holidays in senior living can be done in many ways.
Honor The Past
As mentioned above, most people have traditions that they have incorporated into their holiday celebrations. Making specials meals. Getting together with family. Attending special events. While living in assisted living, most people continue to enjoy and embrace these honored rituals. Not to mention, many senior living communities offer full kitchens, party rooms and other spaces that you can reserve for family gatherings. This gives people the opportunity to celebrate together in their new home. It can be a great option especially for large groups.
One of my favorite memories is visiting my husband’s Grandparents in the nursing home during the Christmas season. They were unable to go out because of mobility challenges. So, the entire family got together and went to them. They were delighted to have company in their home. As an assisted living director, I was always happy to have families visit and even stay with residents over the holiday. Some senior living communties offer guest suites like a hotel room to rent. This is great for out-of-town visitors. Honoring the past is about keeping some of the same loved traditions. Doing this will allow the senior being cared for to maintain their autonomy and familial position.
Embrace The Present
Senior housing is a place to thrive and experience new things. The month of December is full of activities and parties planned for residents. Participation is always optional. It is a great way to make new friends. And you may have the chance to learn about a celebration you are less familiar with. Some people even share their own traditions and lead an activity for the other residents. For persons with memory loss, it may be more challenging to leave the facility. In this case, families may come and join some of the celebrations or entertainment that assisted living and memory care is offering.
Many senior living communities will invite families for a special celebration a couple times a year. December is a popular month for these gatherings. In one facility the culinary director created a spectacular gingerbread display. It was the center of attention throughout the holiday season. Other fun activities include:
- Bus outing to look at holiday lights.
- Baking and cooking programs
- Social gatherings
- Toy or food drives to benefit the greater community.
Look Forward to Something New
In reality, many of us celebrate the holiday season in the way we were brought up. This means we may be less familiar with traditions and festivities from other parts of the world and cultures. While I celebrate Christmas, many of the staff and residents in senior living celebrate other holidays like Hannukah or Kwanza. It can be fun to learn and celebrate holidays that are new to you. Embracing change and being open to new experiences is a way to grow and thrive.
Do What Feels Right to You
To conclude, the holidays can be exciting, overwhelming, fun and for some a little lonely. However, you decide to celebrate, do whatever brings you joy. There is no right or wrong way. Above all, have fun! It is alright to honor some of the past, embrace the present and look forward to something new.
Blessings for a wonderful holiday season!