We all remember the thrill of Christmas morning as children. Rushing to see what Santa had brought and marveling over the crumbles that were once his cookies. Our parents were sure that the holidays were special for us. As years pass and we all age, our loved ones may be slowing down. It’s important to remember to include aging loved ones on holidays. They once made holidays for us so magical, memorable, and meaningful. Though the influence of different living situations, medical conditions, and more may have an effect on holiday traditions, there is no issue in embracing the new to ensure everyone feels the love and fun of the holidays.
If your loved one is currently in assisted living, you may be considering bringing them to your home for the holiday. It is important to advise with your loved one’s medical team to asses your best options. Do they have limited mobility? Is your home accommodating to these limitations? Does my loved one have a memory disorder? Will they become easily confused if removed from routine? Does my loved one have physical needs I am not able to meet? It is essential you have a full understanding of what a normal day looks like to your loved one. Listen to their medical team, they spend a great deal of time with your loved one and may know what they are and are not able to handle.
When someone is suffering from memory loss, it may be disorienting for them to experience a schedule change. Depending on the severity of their memory loss, it may seem they have no interest in the holidays at all. Even if your loved one seems confused on which holiday it is, they will still value time spent with family. As suggested by Daily Caring, this is a great time to remember past holidays spent together, look at pictures taken from this time of year, decorate their space, and sing Christmas songs. Unless they are bothered or irritated by these events, seeing you and your family celebrating will likely encourage them to do the same. Much like all other events and times with those suffering from memory loss, it is important to be patient and remain calm. It is likely extremely confusing and disheartening for them to not understand what holiday it is or what is happening and see that it makes you and other family members upset. If they seem to be agitated by holidays festivities, try just spending meaningful time with them.
You and your family may have made the decision to leave your loved one in the comfort of their assisted living facility for the holidays. Each holiday is just as respected and celebrated as it would be at home. At The Gables Assisted Living and Memory Care, we have months full of events, crafts, baking, and more. The staff at The Gables Assisted Living and Memory Care works diligently to guarantee all of our residents feel the holiday spirit. There are so many great ways to celebrate with your elderly loved one in our assisted living facility.
- Check with Staff
Check with your loved one’s caretakers for a tentative schedule of their day. Ask what time of day they are most alert, feel their best, are in a good mood, etc. Try to visit at times that your loved one is not occupied and is feeling the most ready for visitors and holiday festivities.
- Bring Familiar Faces
If your loved one is experiencing memory loss, too many visitors may be confusing and overwhelming. Children may also be stressful for the elderly. Bring in people your loved one knows well. If children in the room are becoming too excited or playful for your loved one, remove them to a common area of the facility.
- Practice Tradition
Though it may feel different than normal family holidays, it doesn’t mean traditions can’t still be practiced. Listen to your family’s favorite Christmas songs, reflect on holiday’s past, and allow them to open their presents with you.
- Visit Before the Day of the Holiday
Sometimes visiting a loved one on the day of a holiday may be the only option, especially for those that are travelling. If you live close or have the opportunity, visit your loved one before the day of the holiday. Ask them if they would like to decorate their room in accordance to the holiday and talk about upcoming festivities. These decorations and conversations will serve as a reminder of the time of year for those that may be suffering with memory loss. It may also be helpful to ask if there is any shopping they need done. It is likely there are gifts they would still like to give to loved ones but may not have the ability to obtain.
- Arrange a Phone Call or Video Chat
If you are unable to travel to see your loved one at the time of the holidays, make sure you still contact them. Call the facility and organize a video chat call, a talk on the phone, or send a meaningful card. Though life is busy for you as you travel and celebrate in different areas, it is likely your loved one is still thinking of and missing you. Even if you feel their memory loss is progressed so far, they won’t remember if you talk or don’t, there is no way of being sure. It is always a nice reminder, and everyone feels great when they are remembered by the people they love.
As the holidays come into play it can feel overwhelming, hectic, and stressful. Remember in the midst of your hurry all the times your loved one made the holidays so special for you, and try to do the same for them, no matter their condition.