Staying healthy during the holidays can be difficult when meals are decadent, and treats are abundant.

Seniors have different dietary restrictions and physical limitations than younger adults. We urge families to include the elderly in holiday activities but encourage healthy alternatives everyone can enjoy.

Don’t make assumptions about a senior’s capabilities. Offer older relatives options and ask them what they want to do. Below are recommended steps to follow to ensure seniors remain healthy and enjoy holiday activities.


Make Healthy Choices

It is easy to overindulge during the holidays. Many seniors have diabetes or health conditions that should be considered when preparing a meal.

Stay Hydrated

Elderly dehydration is common due to medications, decreased thirst, decreased kidney function or illness. Keep water easily accessible to seniors. Place a bottle of water in your purse or in the car while running errands.

Follow Dietary Restrictions

Some seniors must follow low sodium diets or other dietary restrictions. To make it easier to follow dietary guidelines, keep healthy options like cut-veggies or fruit on hand.

Drink in Moderation

While drinking alcohol in moderation seems obvious, many individuals do not monitor their alcohol intake over the course of long family gatherings. Drinking too much impairs bodily functions and increases the risk of side effects with certain medications. Keep non-alcoholic beverages on hand during celebrations.

Keep Exercising

In many regions, the holiday season is synonymous with cold weather and snow. In order to stick to an exercise schedule during cooler temperatures, consider indoor activities like walking around the mall.

Shake Up Traditions

Large holiday gatherings can be stressful for everyone! Rather than hosting celebrations at a senior’s home, consider passing the role of host to the younger generation. Cooking, cleaning, and other host duties are too much for older adults with physical limitations.

Decrease Gifts

Most seniors are on a fixed income. It can be financially challenging to purchase a gift for every family member. Rather than exchanging gifts, consider experiences or every family member only purchasing one gift for a family grab bag.

Rest After Traveling

Whether seniors travel by car, train or plane, keep in mind that your older relative will need to rest upon arrival. Suggest watching television or napping rather than planning a day or shopping and visiting.

Make Homes Accessible

Be mindful of potential hazards in your home when an older adult is visiting. Consider having an older adult sleep on the first floor of your home if they cannot manage stairs. Allow them to stay in a room near the bathroom. Add nightlights in hallways to prevent falls.

Take Breaks

Whether you are old or young, breaks will help the entire family. Between parties, shopping, and celebrations most family members will need time to recuperate.

Stay Involved

Seniors want to be part of holiday events. You can keep them included by allowing them to help plan the menu, prepare dishes, or decorate.