For many, the holiday season is a time of joy and merriment, but for some older adults the holidays can be depressing, especially those who live alone. Feelings of loneliness due to the loss of loved ones and past traditions can make the holidays a difficult time for seniors. Simply including your senior loved one in holiday activities can bring them joy and help brighten their holiday season. Here are some fun ideas for activities you can enjoy together.
1. Attend a holiday music concert
Whether it’s a grade school holiday pageant or a professional production of the nutcracker, getting out to enjoy holiday music is a great way to include seniors in your family outings. You can also check local listings for events going on near you as many organizations and churches host holiday concerts for free.
2. Get out to see Holiday lights
Take your senior loved one for a drive to see Christmas lights. It’s a great way to get them out of the house, and if they no longer drive, it might be their only opportunity to enjoy the colorful displays around town. Search for holiday light exhibits in your local community such as the drive through “Fantasy of Lights” right here in Los Gatos.
3. Reminisce about past
As a family, look through old photo albums, listen to classic holiday tunes, and encourage your loved one to tell stories from the past. Sharing memories can be moving and engaging for seniors and its great way to pass down family stories and holiday traditions to younger generations.
4. Make a gingerbread house
Decorating a gingerbread house is a creative (and delicious!) activity that everyone can enjoy. Invite children in the family to decorate alongside your senior loved one so they can spend quality time together. Gingerbread house kits are available almost everywhere this time of year, or you can even build your own by pasting graham crackers together with icing.
5. Indoor gardening
Winter weather might keep your loved one from spending time in the yard, but they can still enjoy gardening indoors with seasonal plants such as the amaryllis. Around the holidays, amaryllis kits are easy to find and come in several brilliant colors. Growing from a bulb into large magnificent blooms over several weeks, you can literally watch the amaryllis get bigger daily, making it an easy and fun holiday activity for seniors to enjoy.
6. Put up decorations
Invite your senior loved one to join while your family decorates the Christmas tree. If their mobility is limited, they can still participate by helping unwrap ornaments with the kids. Or, if your loved one lives on their own but no longer has the ability to decorate, get the family together and bring a tree and decorations over to their house.
7. Prepare holiday meals together
Seniors often enjoy feeling useful and needed, so let your loved one participate in the holiday meal preparation. Even if they aren’t able to move swiftly around the kitchen, they can help with smaller tasks like peeling vegetables, folding napkins, and arranging the table.
Keep in mind that spending time with family and friends is what truly makes the holidays special. Whatever tradition your family celebrates, remember to include your senior loved one in the festivities as much as possible.