Family time is always important - especially at Christmas!
Christmas time is very family orientated and the classic image of a Christmas day is the whole family around the tree, enjoying each other’s company. However, some elderly people may spend the Christmas holidays on their own due to physical reasons or because they have a small family that lives far away. It is important to make sure that your elderly loved one is included in the Christmas holiday festivities because it minimises loneliness and reduces stress, promoting better physical and mental health.
To help include your elderly loved one in the Christmas festivities, here are some activities you could do with them to help them out in the days leading up to Christmas and on Christmas day.
Christmas movie marathon
Watching films is a great way to lower stress levels among seniors because they can focus on spending time with you and the film. Although watching films as a family is a simple activity, it is very effective and is a form of socialising, even if you are not speaking.
It also opens up questions about the plot and the characters when the film is finished, helping to encourage good conversation.
Many elderly people enjoy baking and cooking, but it can be quite difficult if they are feeling weak or if their hands just aren’t able to move like they did when they were younger. Bring everyone into the kitchen for some cookie and gingerbread baking and decorating in the days leading up to Christmas. This helps bring people in the family together whilst making some quick, easy and delicious food.
View Christmas lights
A good opportunity to get your elderly loved one out of the house is to see Christmas lights and displays. Some neighbourhoods go all out with their decorations and some towns have a Christmas light turn on display. Whether it is a large Christmas light display or a small neighbourhood, take your relative out in the car and have a look.
If you are planning on walking around to see the lights, make sure that they are wrapped up warm and you are close to them, the last thing you want them to do is to slip, so make sure they have good footing.
Cooking a Christmas dinner can often be overwhelming for anyone, but it can be extra stressful for those who are elderly with decreased mobility. Christmas is meant to be enjoyable, not exhausting, so it might be a good idea to eat at a restaurant for Christmas dinner.
There are many restaurants both lavish and budget-friendly that offer set Christmas menus around and on Christmas day for families to enjoy. Allow your loved one to pick out their favourite menu, book for a certain day and then just turn up to eat! This allows them to delve into some enjoyable food, spend time socialising with family and friends whilst not worrying about meal preparation. Food brings everyone together.
Help wrap gifts
A Christmas activity that elderly people may struggle to do on their own is wrapping Christmas presents. Sometimes, elderly people’s hands can become stiff and painful, especially when intricately folding lots of presents. Offer to sit down and help them out, giving your assistance where needed.
It is important to still give them some independence and not completely take over the task. Wrapping up gifts is a great way for you and your loved one to talk about the gifts, who they are for and what they are about, giving them an opportunity to talk and communicate with you.