Making Sure Your Elderly Loved Ones Have a Happy Holiday
If you’re the caregiver, friend, neighbor or family member of an elderly loved one, it’s important to understand that the holidays can be a difficult time for them. The elderly often suffer from loneliness, depression and may be mourning the losses they’ve experienced over their lifetimes. And while the holidays might be a time to reflect, it can also be a joyous time to share with friends and family.
One of the most important things you can do is listen to them. Let them share their stories and if they are feeling sad, allow them to share those feelings. Show empathy, remember, at some point in the future you may be in the same place feeling the same feelings. Encourage them to remember the good times in their lives, focusing on happy memories as well as those that make them feel sad.
Make them an important part of your holiday celebration, show them that they are loved and appreciated and useful member of your family. No one wants to feel useless or like a burden to their loved ones. While caring for an elderly family member, loved one or a neighbor can be strenuous, never let your words or actions make them feel like they are a burden to you.
Elderly people may find it hard to keep up with lifelong friends or family members. Help them write holiday cards or letters as a way to reach out to the people they may be missing or worried about. If possible, help make phone calls as a way to connect with the people they haven’t spoken to in a while.
Help them decorate their home or room, using ornaments or decorations that have meaning to them, whether it’s for Christmas or Chanukah or another holiday, being surrounded by festive decorations can be uplifting. And while decorations may put people in the holiday spirit, let your loved ones know that it’s the connections we have with people that mean the most.
If you have elderly neighbors or relatives that live alone, bring them some holiday cookies, treats or drop off a meal. Make sure they have something to do for the holiday. If not, invite them to celebrate the holidays with you.
For those who can’t be with their elderly loved ones during the holiday because they live far away or are in a nursing center, make sure you check in with them to make sure their needs are being met. You can check in with their caregivers or assisted living centers and find out what they have planned for those spending the holidays alone. Sending a care package with gifts and other goodies can go a long way towards easing loneliness and depression over the holidays.
Spending time with them is by far the most important thing you can do. Share a meal, make holiday cookies with them, look through old photo albums, enjoy some home movies and memories of the past, play holiday music or watch a classic holiday movie together.
Your time is the most important and precious gift you can give your elderly loved ones this holiday. Shang time with the people you care about is not only important to them but will create lasting memories you will cherish for the rest of your life.