Many caregivers realize that aging loved ones need more support during the holidays.
Support can be practical, emotional, or physical. The holidays can feel bittersweet for many older adults. Seniors might feel isolated and alone, which may amplify feelings of loss, deteriorating health or changes in their environment.
While there may be practical ways you can support your loved one, emotional support goes a long way. Below are tips that will lift the burden of finding solutions to emotional difficulties but will help your loved one feel supported and heard.
We’ve also sprinkled in ideas for keeping your loved one active and included in holiday activities.
- Spend time listening to your aging loved one even if what they have to say is sad or negative.
- Engage and listen. Don’t rush to fill silences.
- Don’t give advice. This will lift the burden of finding a solution on you and will help the other individual feel heard.
- Instead of advice, affirm their feelings. Say, “That must be very difficult” or “That is very brave” or “I’m sorry you are feeling this way.”
- Involve seniors in celebrations in meaningful ways. Allow them to help you prep a meal or untangle lights.
- Allow them to be involved with children and grandchildren.
- Share photos and look at old family photos.
- Help them write holiday cards for friends.
- Take them to see holiday lights.
- Provide transportation to holiday parties and church services.
- If you live far away, have a virtual party through Skype or Google Chat.
- Offer to do shopping and clean up if your loved one is hosting a holiday party.
- Consider ringing in the new year on New Year’s Day with a breakfast or lunch.
- Ask your loved one if there is a tradition from their youth they would like to include.
- Adopt an attitude of gratitude.