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Creating Holiday Memories with Parents

Making the most of the holidays

Dealing with a parent during the holidays can feel overwhelming at times, even if they live in a retirement community, but it’s important to remember how your loved one might be feeling. While many holiday activities take place at a senior living community, joining in the community’s holiday festivities is just one part of celebrating this time of year. Engaging your loved one with personal visits, inviting them to family activities and sharing quality time can make for joyous holiday memories. It simply takes a little thought, a bit of preparation and a dash of love to make the holidays enjoyable for all ages – from the youngest to the oldest. No matter your loved one’s abilities, these tips will ensure this year’s celebration will be one to cherish for years to come.

A senior citizen holding a grandchild while they look out a window at a snowy landscape.

Honor holiday traditions while forming festive new memories

When spending time with the whole family, consider a healthy blend of tradition and new memories. If you live nearby, offer to help decorate your loved one’s senior apartment for the holidays. Ask the community if you can put up Christmas lights in the apartment or decorate the front door. No need to go overboard – a simple wreath will do rather than the fuss of a Christmas tree.

While preparing for the holidays, ask Mom or Dad to send along their favorite holiday recipe. If you take care of gathering the ingredients, your parent can take the reins on prepping and preparing the dish, with the assistance of Santa’s little helpers. Grandma or Grandpa can teach the grandchildren step by step, and everyone in the family can get involved. Buy blank recipe cards and let the kids decorate them – you’ve just created a new family tradition and ensured your loved one’s recipe stays in the family for generations to come.

Include your loved one in Christmas shopping or gift wrapping. When they see the little ones’ faces light up as they tear through the gift wrapping, they’ll feel a special warmth knowing they had a hand in making it happen.

Whether you’re hosting or visiting your loved one at their senior living community, get the whole family together for a festive movie marathon. Pop in a holiday classic like It’s a Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street, or simply sit by the fire and sip hot cocoa or cider. If your mother or father is living with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, it’s important to understand that they may be sensitive to memories from past holidays, so try to focus on the moment and enjoy life in the present.

Grandchildren putting together a puzzle with their grandmother.

Engage your loved one

Often times elderly loved ones are left alone on the couch at family gatherings, twiddling their thumbs, longing to be engaged. To avoid this waiting game, assign tasks to your loved one such as helping set the table for Thanksgiving dinner, tossing a salad or occupying the grandchildren.

Responsibility can be engaging; however, don’t overwhelm your loved one by asking them to perform unfamiliar tasks. For example, don’t ask your parent to find a Christmas playlist on Spotify – simply ask they sing along or request a favorite melody when someone who’s more familiar with the technology gets the playlist set up.

Get out into the community

Just because your loved one is getting older doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t want to see what’s going on around town. Purchase tickets to a seasonal show like The Nutcracker or A Christmas Carol. Drive around to see the neighborhood Christmas lights or local window displays. If your loved one is feeling up to it, volunteer as a family by ringing bells for the Salvation Army, picking out toys for a local toy drive or caroling through the neighborhood.

Do what works for you, your family and your situation

Keep in mind, you don’t necessarily have to get together on Christmas Day to celebrate the season. Making time for both sides of the family as well as relatives traveling from out of town can be a big responsibility. Every family does it differently. As long as everyone can participate in the festivities and truly feels included, the calendar date doesn’t really matter.

Where joy is found year-round

At The Ridge senior living communities, the holiday season truly is the most wonderful time of the year. Residents enjoy drives through the neighborhood to gaze at Christmas light displays, Thanksgiving and other holiday meals artfully prepared by the culinary staff, caroling and singalongs, ornament making, and even a trip to the Festival of Trees – a must-attend holiday event in Utah. And when your loved one lives at The Ridge, you’re always welcome to socialize and celebrate with us, no matter the season.