The holidays can be an extremely bittersweet time of year; on one hand you have the hustle and bustle of the sparkling décor in the malls and the opportunity to see many loved ones (while eating way too much food and exercising way too little!). On the other hand, you may be dealing with cooking, entertaining, budgeting and approaching the holidays while dealing with the loss of a loved one or reminiscing of simpler times. For senior citizens, these conflicting feelings of holiday bliss and blues are often compounded by mobility concerns of getting to and from festivities, managing dietary restrictions and feeling generally overwhelmed.
While there are no stress-buster guarantees, we do hope the following considerations will help you guide the older adults in your life through maximum memory-making with minimal stress.
Tip #1: Don’t Assume Anything. By not inviting grandma to all three Christmas dinners, or leaving her out of the gift exchange – you might think you are doing her a favor. But feelings of being left out can add even more stress, so your best bet is to ask your loved ones which holiday traditions they are looking forward to, which ones are making them anxious and what activities they would like to partake in with some accommodations.
Tip #2: Appoint An Advocate. Even if the best laid plans account for Uncle Ed’s ride to and from the holiday brunch, or half the dishes are low salt for his high blood pressure…there are always things that can’t be planned for. Assign one family member to monitor (with careful consideration) how the day is going, how your older loved ones are coping and if they need anything ~ naps, hugs and hot toddies included!
Tip #3: Blend Traditions Old & New. As our families grow and change over time – our traditions often do too! Yet, our parents and grandparents may find great comfort in certain steadfast celebrations such as placing the star on the tree (not the angel) or opening one gift on Christmas Eve (but not all!). Consider which holiday moments mean the most to them and compromise on the others ~ the best gift you can give is often a simple dose of extra attention to detail!
For more T-O-P tips on managing seasonal senior stress, we recommend these resources:
We know that moving during the holidays can create another level of ‘ho, ho, ho…oh NOOOO!’. So feel free to let us know if move management or professional organization services may be the very best gift you can give to yourself!
Helen & Julie