Holiday Tips for the Elderly

Balancing Changing Needs with Family Traditions

The holidays are coming, and for most of us that means plenty of time with family and friends, overindulging in rich food or drinks, and parties.  Growing older does not mean wanting to give up these seasonal traditions, but the holidays can be hard on seniors.  Here are some of our tips to help seniors enjoy the holidays, whether they are living in one of our assisted living facilities, living independently, or living with family.

  1. Think about health when you are planning your menus. The holidays can make it difficult to stick to a diet, but seniors who have dietary restrictions because of high blood pressure, diabetes, or other health concerns cannot always safely “cheat” on their diets.  Make sure that the main courses are lower sodium or sugar, and that there are plenty of healthy side dishes and drink options.
  2. Think about mobility when planning get togethers. Does your elderly relative have any problems with mobility?  Does he or she use a walker or other type of assistance to walk?  For big family gatherings, people often bring in extra tables and chairs; make sure there is at least one clear path that makes movement easy for any family members with mobility problems.
  3. Do not assume that age will prevent someone from enjoying an activity. Have a holiday activity you think a senior family member would enjoy, but worry that it might not be senior friendly?  Call the venue and ask.  Even if a location does not have services dedicated to helping senior guests, like scooter rentals, they may be able to help you plan a more peaceful visit.
  4. Keep actual energy in mind. While many elderly people remain very active, others need more frequent rest periods, especially in high-activity scenarios.  Plan events so that your relative can participate and still get rest.  This may mean spreading out activities over a period of several days, or simply providing a quiet room where someone can take a nap.
  5. Reach out to seniors who might be lonely over the holidays. Not all families have the time or budget to travel to see senior relatives over the holidays; if you know a senior who will be spending the holidays alone, reach out and invite them to participate in some of your holiday activities.

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