5 Tips for Helping Elderly Parents Stay Happy During the Holidays
The holiday season is a time to bring families together and reconnect with our loved ones. But when your parent is aging, they may not be able to participate in the activities that they once did. With a little effort on your part, you can adjust your holiday celebrations so that your parents can stay involved.
When determining how to keep your parents involved with family holiday celebrations, it’s important to take your parent’s specific needs into consideration. The following tips are guidelines, but you will need to adjust them to best reflect what your parents can and cannot do.
Have a Conversation With Your Parents
Before planning your holiday gatherings, have a conversation with your parents. Explain your holiday gathering plans so far, and ask your parents how they feel about the plans. Be honest with your parents about the fact that you want them to be comfortable and you want to make sure that the holiday celebrations are convenient for them. Now is the time to ask any questions you may have about whether your parents would be willing to travel, special menu preferences they may have, and even any holiday traditions that they would like to continue this year.
Choose the Location for Gatherings Carefully
One major step to ensuring that your parents are able to take part in family celebrations is to give serious thought to the gathering’s location. The elderly often prefer to stay closer to home, since traveling can be difficult and your parent may have issues, like incontinence, that make them hesitant to travel. While hosting a gathering in your parent’s home may also be too much, it’s important that you choose a location which is convenient and appropriate for your parent.
Consider Venue Accessibility
Regardless of where you plan on having your holiday celebration, you will need to make sure that it is accessible for your parents. Seniors often have mobility complications which can range from difficulty climbing stairs to dependence on a walker or a wheelchair.
Be sure to consider the following factors when choosing a venue, whether it’s a public space or a private home:
- Are there ramps and handicapped entrances available?
- Is the restroom available on the same level as the celebration, and is it handicapped accessible?
- Are doorways wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair?
- Are there raised sills in the doorways which are difficult to navigate with a walker or wheelchair?
- Is there adequate space around the table for a wheelchair?
- Are hallways and general spaces wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair?
- Will stairs, sidewalks, and ramps be cleared of snow and ice?
The more that you can think ahead, the better you can avoid accessibility and safety issues on the day of your holiday celebration.
Strategically Seat Your Parents
When it comes to seating your parents around the holiday table, there are a number of factors to consider. For instance, is your parent hard of hearing? If so, you may want to sit them close by the adults that they’ll be talking with, while keeping children distanced a bit to cut down on noise. If your parent relies on a wheelchair or walker, it may be best to seat them in a location which is easily accessible, such as the head of a table near a doorway. Your parent may also appreciate being seated in an area where they can easily leave the table to use the restroom.
Find Ways to Keep Your Parents Active
Many seniors don’t like to feel as if they’re left out of the action. Depending on your parent, you may want to find ways to keep them active during the celebration. If you’re cooking a meal, there may be tasks your parent can help with, like peeling vegetables or making a pie crust. Consider asking for your parent’s help in making holiday decorations, or preparing place settings.
A Recipe for a Great Holiday
While your parents’ involvement in holiday celebrations may change or be more limited as they age, there are still ways to keep them involved. We wish you a wonderful holiday season with your family and hope that you create wonderful memories.