Updated: Jul 20
Holidays often evoke warm memories of mom in the kitchen baking traditional treats or dad playing Santa to divvy up the gifts under the tree. If you are like (stat) percent of the families with aging parents, the holidays look different. If your parent is in a senior living complex or assisted living facility, you may be wondering how to keep the magic and warmth of the holidays continuing. Here we share how to keep the happy holidays going with smiles, laughs, and many memories to be made. We offer tips on how to bring Christmas to them or bring your loved one to your Christmas.
Holidays as a family may be more complex when a parent resides in an assisted living community or skilled nursing facility in a different city.
What does it look like to bring Christmas to your loved one?
For many Holidays without family is a stark and lonely reminder that their world is no longer the same.
Recreate a home for the holiday where your loved one is.
If someone has a home near your loved one, consider that as the temporary home for the holiday. If no one lives close by you could rent an Air BnB nearby to serve as the home for the festivities.
Think ahead and make sure your home, a nearby relative, or an Air BnB is decorated as it would have been when your loved one was able to host the holiday festivities.
There are a few things to consider before you pick up mom or dad for the family fun and festivities.
Is your loved one suffering from cognitive issues that could be exacerbated by a change in location?
What medical issues, such as mobility or medications, must be addressed while they are away from the facility?
Make a plan for an emergency. Determine your parent's preferred hospital and keep the primary physician's phone number handy.
Check that the house you're going to is easily accessible. Is there a flight of stairs that your parent will struggle to climb? Does it have a walk-in shower?
If a change of venue will not work, then bring the happy holiday to them.
Recreate as many traditions as possible by enticing the senses of your loved one. Evoke nostalgia and holiday feels by bringing favorite baked goodies from holidays past. Be sure to check with staff to make sure it doesn't interfere with any dietary restrictions.
Decorate the room and make it feel festive with lights and a mini tree. Be sure to keep cords clear from walkways and avoid placing decorations where they could be dangerous.
Turn up the tunes. Play all the music that was played when your loved one was the one hosting and planning the holidays.
Tear the paper. Give them the gift of allowing them to see grandchildren open presents.
Don’t overlook those in the facility that may not have loved ones close by. Invite others to enjoy the holiday with you.
Discuss with your elderly family member new ways to celebrate the happy holidays in their senior living community, whether they will be at their new home or you will be picking them up. Whether they decide to spend the holidays in their senior living community or elsewhere, let them participate in planning the celebrations.
Things happen and sometimes life changes your plans before you can it is important to stay flexible and be ready to adapt to the situation.
Flights can be delayed, someone can come down with the flu. If life happens and you are kept from seeing your loved one, have a backup plan.
Consider sending a craft for them and their friends to do together
Look for gift delivery services
Reach out to the facility to inquire about zoom options for a virtual holiday get-together. Many people got festive and creative with zoom Christmas dinners during the height of the Covid pandemic.
Interesting to note that if it is your loved ones' first holiday in their new home, this is a great time for them to make connections and new friends. Many facilities have dedicated activity coordinators with lots of activities that encourage and foster companionship and friendship
“If you move someone in during the holiday season, they will be exposed to all of the different activities that the community is involved in."
No matter what you choose, think about what is best for your parent and what will work best with his or her physical or mental limitations. You'll never be able to have another family vacation like the ones you had when you were younger. But don't let that stop you from celebrating with someone you care about. The best thing is to spend as much time as you can with your parent.
Blakey Hall, located in scenic Elon, North Carolina, offers 3 levels of living options from independent living to assisted memory care. We provide programs and services that will continue to enrich the lives of our residents. Reach out today to schedule a tour of our facility today. To learn more about Blakey Hall, explore our living options.