By Rose Fabrick, Certified Senior Advisor at Concierge Care Advisors
During most of the year – with busy work and family schedules – it is often difficult for adult children to spend quality time with their senior parents. Phone calls and face-time calls become good alternative to being physically present. When it becomes difficult for seniors to get out and leave home for social contact, they begin to isolate themselves at home, losing interest in activities they used to enjoy, accompanied by a lack of motivation to handle the daily living activities such as eating meals, getting dressed, and personal hygiene. Sometimes, depression may occur. They exhibit symptoms of failure to thrive because of lack of social contact and life enrichment.
The holidays are all about family and friends gathering. It is a wonderful time to re-energize a senior loved one by celebrating the holidays together. Decorating your parent’s home for the holidays and perhaps using Mom’s fine china and glassware for holiday dinners. Senior parents can be helpful in the kitchen with simple cooking steps that make up the primary meal of the evening. In fact, let them be “bossy” in the kitchen, or with the setting of the table, or washing the fine china. Mom knows you must hand wash the fine china dishes! It shows they are engaged and helps them to remember the memorable holiday activities that they managed over the years. Throughout the holiday celebration – cooking and eating and laughing – talk about the past holidays, pointing out how they made it special.
Your senior loved one may reside in an assisted living community or adult family home. I really appreciate the staff of assisted living communities and adult family homes because they put a tremendous effort into celebrating the holidays with parties for the residents and families, and getting their residents involved in decorating their private space and the community/home. Making a simple holiday wreath for their door or cutting cookie dough with holiday cookie cutters ready for baking can bring a lot of joy. Find out the schedule for the holiday events and preparation, and join in with your loved one. It provides the same sense of participation and joy for the holidays that they experienced in their own home.
Holiday music and sing-alongs has so many benefits for seniors. Music relieves boredom, motivates movement, rekindles positive memories, calms nervousness, encourages happy thoughts, shifts negative thinking pattern and promotes social interaction. Participating in sing-alongs at home, at a senior center or retirement community event are good examples of where music can be heard. Watch holiday movies with your loved ones; Miracle on 34thStreet or White Christmas.
I received a lovely invitation for two from a memory care community partner, who is sponsoring Northwest University and the Kirkland Orchestra performance of traditional Christmas music at Benaroya Hall. The invitation is a gesture of thanks. In keeping with the holiday spirit of giving, my husband and I agreed to invite my lovely senior client to join me. For many months, this wonderful lady was in limbo, not knowing where she would live, as we waited for her affairs to be settled. She has no family or close friends; all alone in this world. We were so excited when the day finally arrived where I could assist her guardian to find her an amazing adult family home where she could live and thrive. Despite the difficulties, she always extended kindness and optimism whenever I visited her. She has maintained her dignity, poise and grace. I may never know her life story. What I can do is create new memories with her. It is a wonderful holiday gift for both of us.