While for some people the holidays are the “most wonderful times of the year,” for others it takes all of their emotional strength to just get through them.
For seniors and aging relatives it can be especially difficult. They are most likely nostalgic about years gone by and missing friends and other family members who have passed away. It’s especially difficult if they have lost a spouse. And for those living alone or without family close by it can be even worse.
I’ve noticed the change in my mom since my dad passed away and now that her sister is in a nursing home. She misses past Christmas celebrations when her siblings and parents were alive and reminisces about when I was young. It’s impossible to recreate these times and quite frankly, with spouses and extended family new traditions have formed. While I want to help her maintain some traditions, I also want her to embrace the present moment and enjoy times with her grandkids and the rest of the family – myself included!
Here are few ways to help seniors avoid holiday blues:
Get some fresh air: Visit a Christmas Village, take a walk in the woods, go caroling. Getting outside and soaking in some Vitamin D while also enjoying a change of scenery helps clear their mind and focus on something else.
Volunteer: Giving back and helping others is a great way to focus on larger issues. Whether it’s volunteering at a homeless shelter, delivering food to the elderly or collecting toys for children giving back makes you feel better.
Include them in new traditions – Involve them with activities your kids are doing and incorporate in something from their holiday traditions. Baking cookies and using a new recipe as well as one of their favorite recipes will help create new and cherished experiences.
Travel – My mom just left on a cruise. She travelled by herself down to Fort Lauderdale and met my cousins on the ship. This was waaayyy out of her comfort zone and I’m so proud of her for doing it. Taking a Caribbean vacation in December is something that certainly was not a part of her traditions but the pictures she’s been sending have been incredible. She’s having a blast and it’s given her a new perspective.
The holidays come with mixed emotions and for many seniors it’s a tough time. Helping them expand their view and gain new perspective will help tremendously.