The holiday season is a time for friends and family to celebrate together. But it can be challenging for seniors who live in a senior living or assisted living community. Your residents may feel that they are missing out on family festivities and fun parties.
Besides, the cold weather can make it difficult for seniors to venture outside for shopping and socializing. It can be hard for family members to visit with children because of the ice and snow as well. This can lead to social isolation which is detrimental to the physical and mental well-being of seniors . This is also commonly known as the ‘Winter Blues‘.
How can you help your residence reduce those feelings of loneliness and isolation? Here are a few ideas for what you can do to cheer them up over the holidays.
Cooking and Baking
Cooking and baking family favorites is a big part of the holiday season. You can help your residents feel the cheer by organizing workshops or even competitions.
Organize an evening where residents can bake and decorate their favorite holiday cookies. Or have a competition to see who has the best family recipe for pies. Encourage everyone to take part, even if they cannot bake themselves. They can judge the entries or help with decorating cakes and cookies.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to making festive goodies. What’s more, your residents can eat the results and enjoy them after!
The environment plays a big role in a person’s mood. It’s no different for seniors. Combat the cold with lights and warmth. Have the residents decorate their rooms as well as common areas with festive items. Wreaths, garlands, wall decorations, and hanging ornaments are easy to put up.
You can make this even more fun by having residents craft their decorations. Crafting activities and workshops can help boost creativity. It’s another reason for seniors to leave their rooms and socialize with others.
Parties and Events
Most senior homes have dinners or parties for the holiday. But one big event may not be fun for everyone. Some of your residents may prefer quieter get-togethers. Others may not like loud music or changes to their routine.
You can organize other social activities centered around the holidays before or after the actual day. How about a night with classic holiday movies? You can also have other low key events around festive books, music or even games. A holiday-themed puzzle night is a great way to bring residents together. For more ideas, read our blog post all about senior-friendly social activities.
The winter weather can make it difficult for some of your residents to go outside. You can help by organizing a trip to a local cafe or a tour of downtown to see the festive lights. It’s a great excuse to get out of the same routine and do something different for the holidays.
Your residents can also visit other indoor venues like museums and art galleries to avoid snow and ice. Check if a local theatre group would be willing to perform for your residents. Or seniors can go out to watch a play as an outing. A thermos of hot chocolate and blankets will keep everyone warm during the trip.
Even with all these festive events, seniors can feel lonely because they’re missing out on family get-togethers. Some seniors may be unable to travel because of mobility or memory issues. Family members may not have the time to schedule a visit when they’re also hosting big dinners.
You can encourage seniors to reach out to their families through other means. For example, they can video chat with their grandchildren or other family members before the big day. Help them send out an e-greeting to loved ones.
Thanks to technology, seniors don’t have to miss out on parties just because they are unable to travel. They can even talk to friends and family who haven’t been able to visit because of long distances.
Making and sending holiday cards is another idea for a festive social event. All you need is a handful of supplies like paper, coloring materials (pencils and markers work well), stamps, and envelopes. You can also provide pre-made cards for those who cannot make it themselves. Seniors can get crafty and use their imagination to create handmade cards. With a thoughtful and personal note inside, getting these cards will make the recipient very happy!
There’s no excuse like the holidays to stroll down memory lane. Encourage residents to share stories and reminisce about loved ones who are not with them today. They can look through old photo albums of their parents or watch home movies featuring their children.
Bring out the old scrapbooks and talk about different family traditions. Who doesn’t have a funny story about their kids or pets? Your residents can even start a new tradition by having nostalgia night every year!