The old adage insisting that “home is where the heart is” couldn’t be truer than when it comes to older adults, assisted living and the holidays. While the days leading up to Christmas can present unique challenges for seniors struggling with memories of days gone by, caregivers can play a vital role in helping them celebrate the season. Read on for eight activities aimed at helping older adults and the people who care for them enjoy “the most wonderful time of the year.”
Merry and Bright Christmas in Assisted Living
1. Deck the Halls
Who doesn’t love a beautifully decorate mantle or sparkling string of twinkle lights? Just because older adults may no longer be living independently doesn’t mean they can’t benefit from some holiday cheer in the form of Christmas decorations. Small artificial trees, sprigs of mistletoe, and stockings are just a few of the way to dress up senior living spaces for the holidays.
Even better? Enlist residents in making ornaments, garland and other decorations. Not only will this help them catch the spirit of the season, but their brains will also get a workout from engaging in a creative outlet.
2. Crank Up the Tunes
Even the most “bah humbug”-inclined seniors will be unable to resist the mood-boosting impact of Christmas music. Spinning holiday tunes in the dining hall and other communal spaces is a simple way to lift spirits while also promoting a sense of community among residents.
3. Have a Holiday Sing-Along
Even better than simply playing music? Encourage seniors to don Santa hats and Christmas sweaters while coming together for a holiday-themed sing-along featuring everything from cheerful ditties like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” to nostalgic oldies-but-goodies like, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” Hand out the lyrics so everyone can sing along — even if they’ve forgotten the words.
A variation on the theme? Take the show “on the road” by having participating residents go caroling from door to door.
4. Invite Family Members to Join In the Festive Fun
Many older adults feel isolated from friends and family members during the holiday. Prevent this situation by welcoming loved ones to join in the fun whenever possible. Family members can help with everything from decorating common spaces to sharing in special meals.
For residents who may not have family members nearby, meanwhile, inviting a local school to perform a concert or participate in an activity can help seniors feel connected.
5. Help with Shopping
While their physical and financial capabilities may have changed, many older adults still enjoy shopping for gifts for the special people in their lives.
For residents who are mobile, a group trip to the local shopping mall can be a fun and fulfilling outlet.
But even residents who aren’t up for venturing off-premises can still get in on the shopping action thanks to the internet and some assistance from caregivers, if necessary.
Some assisted living communities even host their own holiday stores offering residents the experience of shopping without the hassle of dealing with crowds and long lines.
6. Get Crafty
Many seniors enjoy arts and crafts, and there’s no better time to foster this hobby than during the holidays. Consider hosting a class or workshop on wreath-making, gift-wrapping, gingerbread house-making or an alternate holiday-themed activity.
An added bonus? Community members will feel a unique sense of pride from making and giving their own gifts.
7. Host a Movie Marathon
From classics like It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street and White Christmas to more contemporary favorites like The Santa Clause, Elf, and Scrooged, there are near-endless movies to choose from when it comes to planning a day or night of film viewing fun.
8. Organize a Recipe Exchange
Everyone has a beloved holiday recipe or two. Invite community members to share their favorites, then compile a book for everyone to keep. If possible, ask contributors to whip up some samples, then organize a party where residents have the opportunity to taste each other’s treats.
Just because older adults are no longer living at home doesn’t mean they can’t create new holiday traditions as part of their senior living communities. These eight activities will help keep things “merry and bright” for all this season.
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