Amid all the COVID-19 restrictions, there is a bright spot — the opportunity for families to celebrate the holidays together by engaging creatively in a way that’s enjoyable and safe for everyone.
While younger members of the family are on the go and ready to run around the house, seniors (especially those with dementia) will prefer quieter, more structured activities. Family members with Alzheimer’s or dementia will not be able to tolerate crowds or loud noises that can lead to irritation and challenging behaviors. Therefore, it’s important to separate the two, so everyone has a good time. Here are some examples of things to do that seniors will enjoy:
• Playing simple card and board games
• Decorating stockings for members of the family
• Crafts, like making a quilt or a holiday wreath
• Baking holiday cookies together
• Having a gift wrap party
• Writing holiday cards together
• Decorating the house together
• Watching old movies with snacks on-hand
• Listening to favorite music
• Scrapbooking of family past activities
Quilting is a good example of an activity that will get everyone involved. Seniors can assist with the selection of sentimental or personal fabrics. Sewing can be done by hand or machine. Suitable machines are available for under $100 these days. Once completed, the handcrafted quilt can be finished into a blanket or framed, becoming a personalized keepsake that will be treasured for many generations. This year’s holiday season will be challenging and some seniors may be missing the normal festivities with visitors from outside the household. Planned, tranquil activities and staggered extended family visits can make the holidays safer and more comfortable. Avoid large crowds at Grandma’s house this year by planning ahead and making sure everyone gets a chance to see her. The desire to be together can be accomplished in a different way if families work together and set up time slots. Here are some ideas on how to celebrate with Grandma during the holidays without spending the entire day with her.
• Use an iPad and Zoom or FaceTime while singing a holiday song.
• Create holiday cards using photos of the kids and drop them off at her home — but try to keep the visit short.
• Instead of cooking at your senior’s home, make a festive meal or dessert ahead of time and if the weather is good, set up the table outside.
• Create a sign-up log for extended family ahead of time in order to avoid a crowded home.
• Dress up the doorway or entry and have friends and family drop gifts outside the home with a note of holiday cheer and well wishes.
As with anyone coming in from outside the household, make sure you ask the questions needed to ensure your senior is safe over the holidays. Being together can be a wonderful experience — as long as families are responsible and creative with their holiday plans.
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AGING IN HAWAII EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH PROGRAM
by Attention Plus Care — a program providing resources for seniors and their families, covering different aging topics each month. For class information and upcoming topics, call 808-440-9356.