It is almost that time of year again – time for joy and celebration to re-enter our lives for the holidays and the upcoming festivals. The winter is a magical time of year where, in Canada, the climate gets cold and a little inhospitable, but communities grow warm with good company and the love of our friends and family. Every family celebrates the holidays in their own unique ways with their own fun traditions. And your elderly loved one may be the matriarch or patriarch of those family traditions. However, as they get older those traditions may need to be accommodated in order to continue to spark joy in their hearts while being accessible for their minds and bodies. Truly any activity can be enjoyed by seniors as long as their unique circumstances are taken into account and accommodations are met.
You know your senior best and what family traditions are important to you. So you and your family are the best judges for how to accommodate your aging loved one. Consider, elderly people may not have the same energy they once had. So festive activities may still be enjoyable however they should not be too lengthy. If an activity does take a long time consider only coming for part of the activity, specifically your senior’s favorite part. If they love Christmas caroling, they may participate in the beginning and then head back early for some hot cocoa by a warm fireside. Build-in natural breaks for your elderly love ones to rest during activities or to be able to head back early in order to conserve their strength. As well, not all activities can be made accessible to seniors with disabilities. When going to a Christmas tree farm to cut down a Christmas tree – a senior who uses a wheelchair may not be able to participate in that activity, however, nowadays you can video call your loved one for their opinion from the safety of their house while the group is trapezing through the snow looking for a tree. Video calls can be a great way of involving seniors who may feel more comfortable staying in their homes. However, the best bet is to plan activities that they can either participate in at home or are in spaces that have easy access to accessibility ramps as well as disability washrooms. Often, access to washrooms can be a huge barrier and a sense of embarrassment for senior citizens. So call ahead if you plan on going to a local theatre to ensure that they have bathrooms available and if there are disability washrooms available as those will be more readily available so you can skip the lineups. Seniors may feel more comfortable skipping the outdoor activities and staying at home, there are still many wonderful things that they can do to celebrate the holidays.
Below is a list of twenty fun and festive activities that you may wish to do with your elderly loved one. Thoughtfulness and consideration are cornerstones during the holiday season so ensure that you are adapting the activities below to suit your senior’s needs as well as your personal family traditions. The holidays are a great time to ask about old photo albums, beloved family recipes, and family history stories to enjoy by the fireside. Often seniors enjoy sharing stories from their childhood and their memories with family that may have passed and this is a great time to honor those people and make space for them in your modern celebrations.
- Board Games
- Card Games
- Karaoke Caroling
- Holiday-Themed Arts and Crafts
- Holiday Movie Night
- Romantic Holiday Hallmark Film Date
- Holiday Album Listening Party
- Local Theatre
- Comedy Show
Fun Festive Foods
- Bake Christmas Cookies
- Decorate Gingerbread Houses
- Coffee at a Cafe – try the holiday specials!
- Cook Traditional Family Recipes
- Community Christmas Caroling
- Local Farmer’s Markets
- Holiday Family Picture
- Yearly Holiday Card Writing
- Gift Wrapping Party
- Black Friday Online Shopping Together
- Take a Walk Down Memory Lane – with a photo album
By building in the personal family traditions into senior-friendly activities, you can make your senior feel special and loved. And these family traditions that you learn from your elderly loved one are some of the traditions that you will then pass on in the future to your grandchildren. So, take special care to write down any family stories you want to memorialize and try to learn their famous cookie recipe from them so that you can continue to make them and teach the recipe to your family for generations to come.
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