For many of us, Thanksgiving ushers in the start of the holiday season. While most of the family excitedly looks forward to familiar and beloved traditions, some of our senior friends may find themselves overwhelmed or feeling left out. To ensure our residents feel the love this holiday season, we’re sharing our top 3 tips to make this Thanksgiving memorable for the whole family.
Tap Seniors for Nostalgic Stories or Recommendations
Engaging with seniors about their favorite memories is not only fun, but also beneficial. Helping seniors think back to holiday celebrations of the past contributes to Reminiscence therapy, and it benefits older loved ones in so many ways. Nostalgia and Reminiscing aid in reduction of negative emotions, improved communication skills, reducing stress, enhancing personal values, encouraging emotional strength and confidence, and preserving family history.
We recommend asking your loved one about a childhood Thanksgiving memory, their favorite dish, or if they have ever hosted Thanksgiving dinner before. These questions allow them to take a walk down memory lane and gives reassurance that their experiences, thoughts, and feelings matter to your family.
Assign Seniors an achievable Task to Feel Purpose
It is important that our older family members know they are valued, and feel they have purpose. Time magazine reports “findings suggest that sense of purpose, a modifiable factor, may play an important role in maintaining physical function among older adults… People with higher purpose are more proactive in taking care of their health, have better impulse control, and engage in healthier activities.”
We suggest tapping senior family members for help with achievable tasks during holiday celebrations, like folding napkins or setting the table. This way they feel included, important, and a sense of accomplishment or contribution.
Find a Way to Include Loved Ones Who Can’t Join the Main Event
Since 2020, we have all had to get creative with ways to include loved ones in special moments without their physical presence. Often this included zoom calls, so family could share in celebrating from their own homes. However, many senior citizens face challenges with learning new technologies, and can feel very frustrated or defeated in trying.
We recommend families with residents who cannot join their larger celebration visit them with a smaller group. For example, it is so important that seniors have the chance to interact with children in the family. Residents look forward to opportunities to see children, and the holidays certainly amplify that desire. We also know bringing a favorite thanksgiving dish to share with your resident is always appreciated!
Thanksgiving presents us with the opportunity to come together and express our gratitude with loved ones. As some family members get older, we sometimes need to pay special attention to ensuring they feel included. This year, we recommend considering our three tips to ensure this Thanksgiving is memorable for the whole family.