As families prepare to gather this week for the Thanksgiving holiday, it’s important to take a moment to consider how senior loved ones can be included in the traditions. Since aging can be a stressful, lonely phase of life as it is, companionship during the holidays is especially meaningful. It is an opportunity for families to make seniors feel loved and part of a community.
In order to avoid unnecessary stress for family caretakers or seniors, here are some considerations for the Thanksgiving holiday:
❖ Think ahead about the time needed for senior transportation, along with any items that may be needed for a comfortable ride (like a cushion, blanket, etc.).
❖ Modify celebrations as needed for your aging loved one to be able to participate, or even navigate the gathering location.
❖ Take extra precautions for their health and well-being, including cutting up their food well to avoid choking, considering any allergies or physical limitations, and being careful not to share germs—since the elderly are more susceptible to catching illness.
❖ Incorporate simple traditions that a nostalgic senior may appreciate, such as looking at family photos or videos, kids making homemade cards or crafts for them, or listening to favorite music from over the years.
❖ Be patient with yourself and others while taking good care of your mental and physical health in the process. (Holidays can add an extra layer of joy, but also pressure.)
❖ If your aging loved one cannot join for Thanksgiving at your place, consider bringing a Thanksgiving meal to them (or having one delivered) at their Assisted Living or Independent Living location.
Whomever you are celebrating Thanksgiving with this season, remind yourself amidst inevitable stresses to BE THANKFUL for the gift of time together. The inclusion of valued seniors during this time helps remind us that community meals are not just about eating delicious food; more importantly, they are an opportunity to have intentional conversations and to connect with others. May your multi-generational gatherings serve as a chance to celebrate life’s value and familial abundance. Happy Thanksgiving.