It’s the most wonderful time of the year … for most people.
Our seniors can experience difficulty during the festive holiday season despite all the:
- Decorations; and
Preparing for the holidays is important to make this time of year enjoyable for older adults with physical or cognitive limitations.
Keep in mind you can have a memorable and meaningful time together without doing anything elaborate or over the top. Often, when your older adult can join in, it brings joy and encourages them to savor the season.
Keep reading because we will share several senior holiday activities that will spark joy.
Table of Contents
- Spark Joy in Your Loved-One’s Life With These Holiday Activities for Seniors
- 4 Holiday Activities for Seniors With Dementia
- 5 Holiday Activities for Seniors in Senior Living Communities
- 3 Holiday Activities for Seniors Living Away From Loved Ones
- Senior Services of America: Where Seniors Can Celebrate the Season in Their Home Away From Home
Spark Joy in Your Loved-One’s Life With These Holiday Activities for Seniors
This winter, ensure your older loved ones have fun by organizing activities the entire family can enjoy.
It is essential to have activities that spark joy and are dignified — you do not want your loved one to feel as if they are being treated like a child.
4 Holiday Activities for Seniors With Dementia
You may experience challenges during the holidays if your loved one has Alzheimer’s Disease or another type of dementia. However, even seniors with memory problems or cognitive decline can enjoy seasonal celebrations.
This winter, spend time with your loved one with these stimulating, interactive holiday activities. Choosing activities appropriate for your relative’s current stage of dementia will help prevent stress and discomfort.
#1: Make Handmade Decorations
The aroma of scented candles and fluffy garlands fills the air. Twinkling lights are all around. Are these some of your favorite things?
There’s no doubt that decorations brighten up the home and allow families to reflect on their favorite memories; so, this year, why not try making handmade decorations?
All ages can enjoy making decorations as a family, such as popcorn garlands or paper chains.
Making holiday decorations in an assisted living community could be a fun group activity that fills seniors with pride as they see their decorations around the facility.
An additional bonus? Crafting has even been shown to help people with dementia enjoy their time without being overstimulated.
#2: Take a Walk To Enjoy Holiday Decor
Speaking of holiday decor, take a stroll around the neighborhood to enjoy your neighborhood’s outdoor decorations. Walking for seniors has many benefits, so why not enjoy some family time together while they get some exercise?
Try a local mall or shopping center if your neighborhood is not decorated for the holidays.
#3: Play Holiday Tunes From Their Time
“White Christmas” or “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”? Which is your favorite?
We bet the seniors in your life have a favorite Christmas song, too. Play their favorite holiday tunes to make your loved one feel more comfortable during the holidays.
Using the songs as inspiration for …
- Dancing; and
… about old times is a great way to spend time together.
Another pro to playing holiday music from your loved one’s time? It has been found that music stimulates parts of the brain and improves memory in Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.
#4: Breathe in the Scents of the Season
Pumpkin pie spice. Spruce. Cocoa. Do any of these scents trigger fond holiday memories?
Inhaling a scent activates the hippocampus and amygdala in the brain as it travels through the olfactory bulb. In other words, the smell can evoke the same kinds of memories as visual pictures, but they are more emotional.
If you are not a fan of candles, or if you’re in a senior living community and they’re not allowed, you can use other fragrances. Examples include wax melts and essential oils.
Find your loved one’s favorite scent and chat about your cherished holiday memories.
5 Holiday Activities for Seniors in Senior Living Communities
If you’d like some ideas for holiday get-togethers, the following are a few suggestions that would be fun and memorable for a lively group of seniors.
#1: Setup a Holiday Gift Wrapping Station
Do you have a senior who enjoys wrapping gifts? Why not let them be in charge of wrapping the family’s presents this year? Contributing to holiday preparations and giving them a sense of purpose can be a very rewarding experience for them.
You could even turn this into a gift-wrapping party! Bake cookies, make hot cocoa, turn on some holiday music and let your senior bring friends with them. Don’t worry if things are not perfectly wrapped. It’s the fun that counts.
#2: Host a Holiday Party
If your loved one is in a senior living facility, offer to host a holiday party!
It is still possible for seniors to “party it up.” Having a party or gathering often brings:
- Laughter; and
- Fun memories
You can wear ugly sweaters or black ties, whatever you want.
Residents in senior living facilities can interact and socialize during the holidays, which makes it less lonely for those who do not have family nearby.
#3: Consider a Cookie Exchange
There’s nothing like a holiday cookie swap to bring friends together over delicious baked goods and mugs of hot chocolate.
A cookie swap does not have to be elaborate, but you could make this a multi-day affair. For example, you could host a baking day for your loved one and their friends and follow it with a cookie swap the next day.
What a fantastic way for your loved one to show off their baking skills! Maybe you could have them bring their recipe, and you can make copies for the other cookie swap participants.
#4: Create a Holiday ‘Theater’ Playing a Classic Holiday Movie
Put on your favorite comfy pajamas, pop popcorn, and invite your senior and their friends to a holiday movie night! A senior living facility may be able to host your event if your loved one is a resident.
Popcorn, drinks, food, and classic holiday movies can light up a senior’s spirit.
Will you enjoy a classic such as Miracle on 34th Street or a newer holiday movie such as Elf? Why not make this a two-night affair and play a variety of holiday films?
Unless you are a Grinch, everyone loves holiday movies because they are comforting and festive. Holiday movies can also spark sweet memories, leading to many jolly conversations.
#5: Go Caroling in Senior Living Communities
As Buddy the Elf said, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”
Consider Christmas caroling if you want to spread Christmas cheer throughout the senior living community.
Caroling may not be as common today as it once was, but it’s still a well-loved tradition. So why not incorporate this tradition at your local assisted living community?
3 Holiday Activities for Seniors Living Away From Loved Ones
During the holiday season, will any of your loved one’s friends be away from their families?
Why not consider inviting them to celebrate with your family? Additionally, it would be great if you organized some special activities for them.
Let’s look at a few easy-to-implement activities for those away from family and friends during the holiday season.
#1: Organize a Recipe Swap
Seniors can stay in touch with relatives even if they are not physically together by participating in a recipe swap. Seniors can do this by mailing or e-mailing their favorite holiday recipes to loved ones and receiving recipes in return.
To take your recipe swap to the next level, have the recipients bake one of the recipes they received. Then, after each household replicates the dish in its kitchen, they virtually share the tasty results with everyone.
It’s a great way to enjoy a holiday meal without physically being together.
Seniors might feel more involved as they get these images of family members using their most loved holiday recipes.
#2: Send Hand-Crafted Cards
Most seniors remember a time when snail mail was the primary method of communication, and doesn’t everyone love receiving a special letter or card in the mail?
You might consider having a crafting day where you and your loved one can create handcrafted cards. Are they not crafty? Let younger family members craft cards to mail to your loved one.
Seniors can stay mentally active during the holidays by making holiday cards, and receiving them when they aren’t near their loved ones can brighten their day.
#3: Celebrate Digitally
Technology has made it easier for your loved one to keep in touch with family and friends. Many video chat devices are senior-friendly and easy to use.
For example, make use of the “Facebook portal” so they can participate in the holiday morning celebration with the grandkids or connect with them during the holiday party so everyone can say hello to them.
Senior Services of America: Where Seniors Can Celebrate the Season in Their Home Away From Home
If you or a loved one needs more assistance in daily activities or wants to be around others consistently, a senior living community may be right for you.
Senior Services of America communities are lovely places to celebrate the holiday season. As well as providing premier living accommodations, our communities care for our residents and help them remain connected to family and friends.
We offer a range of care options, from independent living with occasional assistance to memory care with consistent care and meaningful activities.
Our locations offer a variety of unique amenities, including:
- Restaurant-style dining
- Spacious accommodations
- Events and activities
- Spas and fitness centers
- And much more
Find your nearest Senior Services of America community to speak with an advisor about senior living.