Adjusting Your Holiday Plans for Your Aging Loved One

It’s not easy watching your loved ones age. Oftentimes aging goes hand-in-hand with decreased mobility, which can impact your family’s holiday plans. But making sure the seniors in your life can participate in holiday celebrations is one of the most meaningful gifts you can give them.

Making Holidays Celebrations Accessible

Whether you’re young or old, the holiday season is a favorite time of the year for many. But as your loved ones age, it can be hard to make sure they’re having as good of a time as they did ten or twenty years ago.

Decreased mobility and difficulty driving can present challenges to older adults who are trying to spend time with their family and friends over the holidays. If you have a set of traditions that have determined where and when you celebrate the holidays for decades, it might be time to rethink them.

Adjusting Your Traditions

Here are some ways you can make sure the seniors in your life have a great holiday season this year:

  1. Consider a New Location
    Maybe you’ve always celebrated Christmas at Uncle Joe’s house two hours away from your parents’ home. Even though your parent used to make that drive easily, it can be a lot to ask of them. Consider moving the celebrations closer to their home, or if that’s not doable, send someone to pick them up and bring them to the festivities. Even if you’re on the road, it’s still valuable time spent with them. Wherever you end up celebrating, make sure that your parents can navigate the home. Especially consider stairs; what may look like just a few stairs can be daunting to seniors who struggle to get to the top. And even though they are probably well-aware of their limitations, it can be embarrassing to not be able to do the things you used to do easily.
  2. Avoid Late Night Parties
    If your loved one is still comfortable driving themselves to the festivities, be mindful of the time of day that you’re asking them to be out and about. Many seniors have a hard time staying up late at night and are at their best in the morning and mid-day hours. Consider bumping up the party to mid-afternoon so they can enjoy it and still get home before dark.
  3. Help them Navigate the Party
    Parties can be difficult places for seniors to navigate with all the people standing around and furniture, rugs, and cords lying in their path. It’s a great idea to clear away as many obstacles as possible for everyone’s sake, but it can also be helpful to ask someone to make sure that your loved one is taken care of during the party. Maybe they’d prefer to sit in their favorite chair and visit with family members and would rather not get up and down to get food and drinks. Consider this an opportunity to teach a mature grandchild how to take care of people who are less able than they are. It can be a win-win for everyone.
  4. Find Activities They Can Participate in
    Many families like to get active after holiday celebrations with a game of football or a walk. While these are great traditions that can help your kids burn off some extra energy, consider where that leaves your aging loved one. Before sending everyone out of the house, think about an activity your parent can participate in. Maybe it’s a fun craft with the youngest grandchildren or even just sitting and talking with them while the others go outside.

It’s not easy watching your loved ones age, but that doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on wonderful traditions that you all have cherished for years. Simply being mindful of your loved ones’ limitations will help you be a gracious host to them. And just remember that making sure the seniors in your life can participate in holiday celebrations is one of the most meaningful gifts you can give them.

Show Them You Care

The Care Professionals at Home Instead® can help you make these transitions in your holiday plans smooth and pleasant. Whether it’s transporting them to the family celebrations or helping them prepare a dish to contribute to the party, we’re here to help.