With the holidays over, Magdalena was having a hard time winding down after all the excitement. Although Magdalena lived in Oklahoma City in a very comfortable assisted living home, most of her family had moved further away into the countryside. Visits were less frequent. There was one thing that stood out to her in her son’s Christmas card. “Mom, we love you. We will be visiting you often in 2022 so be sure to keep the extra chairs in your living room!” The hope to see her son and grandkids kept a smile on her face as she put away the nativity scene and Christmas ornaments she had displayed on the table. It was mid January when she got the call – they were coming! So soon! The door burst open. “Grandma!” The hugs were so sweet. It was off to Grandma’s favorite restaurant for lunch.
For seniors, the holiday season is often the highlight of the year. They get to see family. The sparkle of the lights, the colors and smells and sounds of the season are a special break from their usual day to day life. After New Years day however, life gets back to normal and so do the lives of their family and friends. Make a special effort to show them that they won’t be forgotten this year. They won’t have to wait until next Christmas to experience the joy of seeing family. Here are some ways you can keep their hope alive.
Write a Letter
The Christmas cards won’t be pouring in anymore so this letter will be a surprise and brighten up their day. One of the best things you can do is put hope in their heart – they won’t be forgotten this year. Tell them you’ll be visiting often. “Keep up those daily workouts, because we’ll be coming by to take you out on walks often”! Or lunch. Perhaps you could establish a weekly outing such as taking them to church or to morning coffee. It will mean so much and is really such a small gesture to make the winter chills melt away and sunshine to flood their heart.
Make a phone call. If your loved one is still able to talk on the phone, consider calling them up on a regular basis. Perhaps every Sunday after church. They’ll look forward to the call and be excited to hear what their family did during the week. Perhaps they will remember a few things to tell as well. Making a regular effort is very important, even if seniors are well cared for in an assisted living or nursing home. Their family will always be number one in their life, the ones that hold the key to bringing happiness to their heart each week.
Participate in their events. If your loved one lives in a senior community or assisted living home, you can find out what type of events their community offers each month. See if you are able to attend together with them. During these times of Covid-19 precautions, you may not always be able to be at their social events. In this case, encourage them to go and have a good time with their neighbors. They’ll know you are there cheering them on and participating in their life if even from a distance. Encourage them to socialize with others and make new friends. It will make their life so much richer and give them a reason to wake up each morning. If your loved one is in a memory care program due to Alzheimer’s or some type of other memory loss disorder, you can find out if you can be apart of their daily exercises or help reinforce these daily activities. Elderly care is something every family member can be part of, even if it’s just sharing a meal together and enjoying the good food.
Get them a subscription. You may live far away from your loved one and not be able to visit them often. If this is the case, encourage closer family members to keep in touch with Grandma. In the meantime, you can help them look forward to a weekly or monthly subscription of their favorite magazine, newspaper or activity book. As they pour over their crossword puzzles or magazine, they’ll remember you had thought of them.
Another way to keep in touch is through video visits. Set Grandpa up with an iPad or laptop and he can participate in a visit with the whole family. You can always ask staff or caretakers from their senior home or supportive care team for assistance in facilitating these calls.
The holidays are so special and a reason to live for. This new year, make sure your senior knows you’ll be around frequently. Let them know they are special to you. You can be the key to continuing the holiday magic throughout the year – and into the next holiday season!