BY MANDY KAUFMAN / AJT //
The holiday season is the happiest time of year for many people.
But it’s important to remember that for many older adults, the holidays may not bring the same pleasant feelings as they did in the past. This time of year can be quite challenging for older adults and, for some, can even be painful.
That said, there are a few things you can do to help make sure the holidays are enjoyable for everyone in your life.
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Be sure to plan events in advance and be as inclusive as possible with older adults in your family or circle of friends before the holidays begin. For example, ask them how they want to be involved with the meals.
They may not be able to cook as they did in the past, but perhaps they can help with planning the menu. This can be a meaningful activity for them, and it makes most people feel more included while honoring the gifts they have to offer.
The holidays also can be a reminder for some people that many years have passed.
This can bring up memories of loved ones who no longer are living, which can be a very tender subject. Be sure to share happy memories and stories with your loved ones during the holiday celebration. If possible, encourage older relatives to share some childhood stories with children who are present at gatherings.
It also is very important to be respectful of the older adults’ needs throughout the holidays.
Ask them if they would like to attend services or if they would simply prefer a traditional meal with family. Check to see if they would like to come to your home for family meals or if they would prefer to have everyone come to their home.
Many older adults feel much more comfortable in their own homes, as they are more confident in their surroundings. Also, remember not to make the day too long, or the evening too late, as older adults can tire very easily.
About the writer
Mandy Kaufman is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). She has worked with Aviv Older Adult Services, a division of Jewish Family & Career Services, since 2004. For more information about JF&CS’ Tools for Aging programs, call (770) 677-9411 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.