What are the holiday traditions that you remember from your youth? Who are the people who created those memories for you? For your parent or older adult, the memories they helped create are often the ones that sustain them in their older years.

Often travel and intensive decorating or party activities are difficult for your older adult. There is no reason for a holiday celebration to be a burden on either yourself or your loved one. However, it can also be difficult for your loved one to know that you might be continuing with travel or celebrations with family and friends without them. Be mindful that holiday depression can be worse for those who believe their best years are behind them.

You can help make the holidays special through even the simplest things that you can do. Loved ones with memory challenges often relive the feeling of the holidays through the scents and tastes of the season. Be mindful that chaotic lights and decorations might be overwhelming, but a few memorable decorations, holiday delicacies, or the scent of pine or cookies might spark hints of memories.

Small new traditions throughout the season can be effective in creating the holiday mood:

  • Bake holiday cookies or work on easy crafts with grandchildren.
  • Take an easy drive out to look at lights or participate in a holiday service.
  • Put up some decorations to surprise your older adult. Remember to remove them at the end of the season so they don’t feel the pressure to clean up.
  • Set up smaller gatherings with neighbors and friends.
  • Arrange Zoom or video calls with relatives or friends that are further away.
  • If family is inclined to travel, consider having them come at different times throughout the month rather than one big gathering.
  • Play holiday music or watch holiday movies.
  • If your loved one has cherished holiday decorations, take one or two out and ask them to talk about them. Who does it make them think of? What are the memories connected to that piece? How long have they had it?
  • If your older adult is capable and wants to help, don’t exclude them under the guise of doing it for them. Find options for them to help create the magic.

Source: Aging Care and Care.com

Holiday crafts to do with your loved one:

  • Holiday wreath
  • Filled stockings
  • Pomanders with oranges and cloves
  • Decorate cookies
  • Simple ornaments (kits can be purchased at your local craft stores)

Source: Daily Caring

During the holiday season, if you notice an elderly loved one is struggling to keep up with basic needs, medications, or their home, it is likely time for home care.