Tips for Helping Seniors Thrive During the Holidays
Many of us experience some level of anxiety or depression around the holidays. Perhaps it’s the low light and short days that get us down, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Maybe we’re stressed about shopping, planning family events, and the hefty price tag that comes with all the merriment. But for many of the seniors in our lives, there is added difficulty that comes with the approaching holidays. So instead of dipping our heads in eggnog and bowing out for the season, here are some ways that we can come together with our aging loved ones to fight the holiday blues and bring true joy to the people in our lives.
Remembering the Good Times
For many of our aging loved ones, memories of joyful holidays past can be a painful reminder of better days gone by and those no longer with us. Dear friends, siblings, and spouses may be especially missed on these days when coming together as a family was once a treasured tradition. And while there is nothing we can do to bring those faces back to our holiday dinner tables, we can help our loved ones celebrate those memories while creating joyful new traditions. Here are some tips to help you create a healing experience for your loved one.
Let them lead the way.
When asking someone to open up about something which may be painful for them, it is important to respect their boundaries and only encourage so much as it is welcome. The goal is to allow our loved ones the chance to speak their feelings and be heard. This may mean that they begin by mentioning how they’ve always loved the smell of turkey or how they’ve always hated cranberry jelly, but if they want to talk about that which they are missing, you’ve opened the door to allow them to find the way in their own time.
Go for the photos.
As we age, we may struggle to recall the details of those we are missing or good times gone by, so having the photos there to guide us can lead to a great shared experience. This can be a comforting and engaging activity for the whole family. Younger relatives love to hear about who they take after, who told the best jokes, and who drove mom the craziest. You can help your aging loved one remember those good times by sitting together and going through a photo album, asking thoughtful questions along the way, and perhaps filling in the details where you can.
Be engaged and helpful.
Active listening is more than smiling and nodding your head. Really listen to your loved one. Not only are you likely to hear fascinating stories from a time before you were around to make memories, you may also pick up on queues to things that could be weighing heavily on their hearts and minds or an unfulfilled need you didn’t even know was there. If they struggle with the details, be forgiving and helpful. Plus, it never hurts to do some research about when and where they grew up so you have a little more context and can be more involved in the conversation.
Together you can create the space for memories to come up organically and, hopefully, in a joyful context which is both positive and healing for you and your whole family.
For more information on how you can help your aging loved one live richly every day of the year, contact Senior Living Management today.