Holidays are times when we love to get together with family and friends. However, older family members may occasionally get left out. Certain activities become difficult for seniors over time.
My family has always had a holiday tradition of going to movies together around Thanksgiving and Christmas. My mother is now 85 and is no longer able to enjoy that with us. So what do families do to provide fun activities that include everyone?
Our friends at elder-one-stop.com have another great list of winter holiday activities on their site. We’ve highlighted some of our favorites here and added a few of our own. Here’s our list of 10 great holiday activities for seniors.
1. Holiday puzzles
My family loves jigsaw puzzles, and Holiday themed puzzles are among our favorites. Over the years, we’ve had to adjust the size and difficulty level to accommodate the youngest and oldest family members. Be aware that difficult puzzles may be frustrating for some seniors, so try simpler ones first. Also, make sure there’s plenty of light and comfortable seating so they can lean back occasionally.
2. In-home Holiday movies
Instead of going to the theater to catch the newest release, get together and watch a favorite at home. Make popcorn, hot cocoa, or other snacks to make it more fun. Start early so your older loved ones can get to bed on time. If space allows, others can stay up together and watch longer after seniors have gone to bed.
3. Circle of Thanks
This one is especially appropriate at Thanksgiving, but equally as enjoyable anytime. Gather family members in a circle and pass out slips of paper. Have each family member write down their top three “thanks” items for the year. Then have each one stand and read them aloud. If your senior loved one has hearing loss, choose someone with a strong voice to read each person’s responses. Have them stand as theirs are read so it’s clear who is speaking.
4. Circle of Praise
Do the same thing, but focus on the qualities or actions of one or more people in the group. This activity is often associated with birthday celebrations. However, especially as they get older, a family holiday gathering may be a very appropriate time to specifically highlight a senior in this way.
5. Holiday family worship
Make plans to attend a special holiday worship service with your loved one. If schedules will not allow this, or if your loved one cannot attend a regular service, have a service at home. You can read scriptures, sing songs, and pray together as a family. These times can be especially meaningful for a loved one who is no longer able to attend church as often as they once did.
6. Amaryllis kits
Amaryllis plants produce beautiful red blooms, perfect for the holidays! The plants grow so quickly that you can literally watch them grow day by day. This is a great way to facilitate extra contact with loved ones during the holidays. Start one at home and at their place. Call them every day or every few days and talk about how much they’ve grown. Take photos every day, share and compare.
7. Gingerbread decorating
Depending on your loved one’s condition and living space, this can include baking or not. Either way, decorating gingerbread men is something everyone can enjoy. Bring young kids to participate with seniors in your family. For a more ambitious group, build a gingerbread house.
8. Reading kids’ books (with kids)
My family has discovered over the years that some of the best Christmas books are written for kids. Chances are if you have seniors in your family, there are kids, too. Have them bring their favorite books over and read to or with your older loved ones. If all the kids are grown, don’t worry. Most adults still have a favorite kids’ Christmas books so it’s just as much fun for adults as it is for kids!
9. Holiday window murals
If you have an artistic family–or not–you can have lots of fun painting a holiday window mural. Water-based glass paint can be easily cleaned up and removed at the end of the season. Paint a winter scene with snowmen and pine trees or a manger scene. Lots of templates are available for those like me who are less artistically inclined.
10. Charity work
The holidays, especially Christmas, are all about giving, and that doesn’t just mean giving to our own families. Most of us have more than we need, and many of our neighbors do not. Many seniors can serve food or help distribute clothing to the needy. Those who are less mobile may choose to give to a food, clothing, or toy drive. Another impactful project is to write letters or send cards to soldiers. The most important thing is to get outside of yourself, give to those in need, and experience the true meaning of the holidays.
Hospice and Palliative Care
If you believe you or a loved one may need hospice or palliative care, please do not hesitate to call us at 918-745-0222 today. At Seasons Hospice in Tulsa, Oklahoma, we are here for you. Our trained and caring staff will listen to your needs, answer all your questions, and help you find the care you need. Please call us today.