As Christmas Day is approaching, we are all in a hurry buying and wrapping gifts, decorating the house, and planning our holiday meal. Let’s pause for a second and devote a little time to our elderly friends and relatives.
Advancing age doesn’t allow them to celebrate Christmas like they have done before. Especially for lonely or ill seniors, Christmas may bring feelings of sadness and solitude. What’s more, it’s also a period of reduced sunshine and cold weather, forcing us to stay indoors and be less active than usual.
There’s no need to worry. Seniors might just need some inspiration from us to get into the holiday spirit. Let’s look at six fun ways your elderly loved ones can partake in the festivities. The holiday season is a great time for all of us to do something out of the ordinary and beat the darkness of wintertime.
Decorate their surroundings
Whether your senior is living at home or in a retirement community, encourage them to make their living space Christmas-ready. String lights and spice-scented candles appeal to the senses and create a delightful, festive atmosphere.
For the crafty senior, we suggest creating a holiday wreath to hang on their front door or an Advent wreath with candles. Add ribbons, bells, candy or sweets to fresh pine branches, for a beautifully fragrant, handmade room decoration.
Send holiday postcards
Today emails and texts are the way to go when wishing a Merry Christmas to our loved ones. However, handwritten cards that you get in the mail are something very special. In fact, for the elderly, sending snail mail is what they are used to doing, and what they might prefer. Help them gather the addresses of friends and family they would like to send their wishes to.
If your senior has decreased motor skills, give them a hand with writing. Help them create their own card for an even more personalized greeting. They will love to use this time to think of their loved ones, and whoever gets a Christmas card in the mail will surely appreciate the thought!
Singalong Christmas songs
Music is food for the soul. Choose your favorite Christmas carols, open a songbook or print the lyrics if your senior doesn’t know them, and sing together with family or friends. Retirement homes often organize musical events during the holidays, so encourage your elderly loved ones to participate.
You can even try a karaoke contest and decide who sings “Deck the Halls” the best. Perhaps Grandpa plays the guitar. Ask him to play “Jingle Bells” for the grandkids and sing along!
Bake or cook together
Are there any traditional holiday recipes in your family? Recreate Christmases past with gingerbread man cookies made from grandma’s very own recipe. If your senior can still cook, invite them to make something special for dinner, or join them in the kitchen and cook together! Your senior will feel involved in the holiday preparations, and it will even spark their creativity. Don’t let them feel as though they are not needed, invite them to the kitchen. There is always something to do. Cook, bake, or eat!
Watch a favorite Christmas movie
Your senior can choose from tons of fun Christmas movies. Maybe they’d love to rewatch a classic like “It’s a Wonderful Life” or a holiday romcom like “Love, Actually.” Invite the kids to join in and gather together under a warm blanket and hot chocolate for an evening of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” or “Home Alone”. Especially on a cold snowy night, you can enjoy a fun movie night together as a family with some popcorn and homemade Christmas cookies.
Volunteer time and talent
Look around for any organization in your town or neighborhood, which is looking for help, such as local shelters to charities. Depending on their abilities, your senior can participate by handing out soup to the homeless. If they are skilled at knitting let’s say, they can help teach others a new hobby. Going to a retirement home to chat and have tea with other seniors, especially those who have no family around, is also a loving way to spend the holiday season. At the end, helping others in need is what Christmas is all about.
The holidays are not always joyful and carefree for our elderly citizens, many of whom are suffering from solitude, illness, and the challenges of decreasing independence. We can fight these difficulties with them, by being present, encouraging them to be active, and lending them a hand when needed.
Make Christmas memorable for grandma and grandpa this year by trying one or more of these fun, senior-friendly activities we suggest. Being active and engaged will keep our seniors younger for longer and make the holidays a warm and inclusive season for all.