You are a caregiver and you’ve nurtured a special bond with your elderly care recipient. Where would they be without you and you without them? You assist them at home, provide companionship and help them be more independent, but more than that you’ve built a relationship of mutual respect and trust. You probably know their grandchildren’s names, how their dog Biscuit loves belly rubs and their favorite dessert. It is now the holiday season and you want to make it special for them. Here are five tips to celebrate the holidays with your special care recipient.
1. Make a holiday craft together.
Do one of your care recipients have Alzheimer’s or dementia? Crafting is shown to decrease anxiety, help with depression, increase happiness and protect the brain from damage caused by aging. Try making homemade christmas cards, a christmas wreath, a photo album or a painted ornament together!
2. Help them decorate.
They want to make their home festive this year, but need assistance. You can take out the holiday bin from their storage, hang up stockings together and get the residence “holiday ready” for visitors. Incorporate sentimental items to add enrichment to the home. It’s important to also consider that the decorations are safe and there is still functionality, security and ease of mobility in the home.
3. Play games.
Some elderly love board games or card games and miss the general game playing that happens around the holidays with family and friends. Ask them what they’d like to play and if you don’t know it, ask if they would teach you. Then it not only becomes a fun activity but promotes self-worth for the care recipient. Games are also good for mood, memory and concentration.
4. Bring a home-cooked meal to them.
For those who can not get out to enjoy a holiday dinner, you can prepare a meal and deliver it right to them. Maybe you care for a whole facility of elderly adults, even better, get the care team together and bake a holiday meal they won’t soon forget. Some seniors may not have a driver’s license, grocery stores are hard to navigate and carrying a full basket can be tricky. This way they still get a home cooked meal and you may manage to bring back a sense of nostalgia.
5. Accompany them to a holiday event or activity.
Many elderly care recipients feel isolated and lonely around the holidays. Find local holiday events in the area you think your care recipient might want to attend and ask if you can go with them. View the holiday lights, check out a holiday play or attend a senior holiday celebration event in the community are just a few ideas. By simply including your care recipient in a holiday activity can bring them joy this holiday season.
6. Help them create a holiday social media post.
People of all ages recognize that social media has become important for personal interactions, and for grandparents it is also a great way to connect with their grandchildren among other family and friends. Facebook for instance, is perfect for sharing highlights and photos that the elderly have so enjoyed sharing in person, but now they can share no matter the distance between them and their loved ones. Help your elderly care recipient this year by teaching them how easy it is to share a holiday greeting over social media to their family and watch their face light up as they receive likes and responses.
7. Help them write a holiday letter.
If social media is a little too advanced for your care recipient, then try a more traditional method of writing holiday letters. Many elderly can not travel as they age or may be ill, but still want to let the family know what is going on in their life. A holiday letter can be a great for keeping family up to date. As a caregiver, try to help your care recipient write a well thought out letter. Help them stop and reflect on life, this may be difficult for an aging adult, especially if they are not particularly doing very well, but help them find the good with the bad, so the letter is well received.
8. Support them through their grief.
Sometimes all the care recipient needs is someone to acknowledge and let them express the loss and grief they may experience this time of the year. Be supportive of their holiday choices, if you extend a holiday invite and all they want to do is the exact same thing they always do, let them. Try not to be disappointed if they don’t share the same enthusiasm as you do for the holidays. Understand that grief might encompass your care recipients holiday season, keep this in mind if they want to share with you and listen. Regardless of how they deal with their grief, it is important to be there for them to help them cope, rather than turning them away.