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How to Celebrate the Holidays with Seniors in Assisted Living

Don't let seniors in assisted living communities feel lonely this holiday season. Discover tips for celebrating the holidays in their assisted living community.

By Seniorly Editor · Updated Sep 28, 2021
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Tips for Celebrating the Holidays in Assisted Living

Social isolation and loneliness impact senior well-being and health, particularly during the holidays. The good news – even if your loved one isn’t living at home anymore, you can still reduce their loneliness and bring them some good cheer by planning holiday visits, outings, and celebrations. Although a move to an assisted living community may mean creating and embracing some new traditions, the holidays are all about spending time with the ones you love. Make your loved ones feel included and loved by bringing the holiday spirit to them with these great tips for celebrating the season. 

Decorate their living space together 

Have some fun preparing for the holidays by decorating their living space together. Even if they don’t have a large area, you can still probably find the room for a small tree and other decorations. If they have favorite holiday decorations from years past, make sure you get them out so they can enjoy their memories. String lights around the room, hang up holiday cards and add other festive touches throughout your loved one’s living area. Not only will it bring them joy throughout the season, but it will set the perfect backdrop for the rest of your holiday celebrations.  

Have a holiday movie night 

Another fun way to celebrate the holidays with your loved one in assisted living is to have an enjoyable holiday movie night. Grab some of their favorite holiday movies, bring some holiday treats and plenty of popcorn, and kick back for an evening watching movies that celebrate this special time of year. You can invite other family members or friends from the community to share in the holiday movie night, too. 

Get involved in community holiday activities 

According to the Huffington Post, assisted living communities often have a variety of holiday activities for residents to give them the chance to get out and engage with their neighbors, which helps to prevent isolation and loneliness. Since the community probably offers some great events, consider heading to these activities with your loved one. Check with the facility to make sure that families are welcome at these events. Even though you may not be able to attend all the seasonal activities, you can pick out a few that will mean the most to your senior and make plans to attend together. 

Enjoy special holiday events or activities together

Besides all the festive events organized by the assisted living community, there are many other exciting holiday events and activities you can share with your loved one. Head out to a mall together to do some shopping for family members while you admire the holiday decorations. Take your loved one out for an evening driving around looking at Christmas lights while you enjoy sipping on tea, hot chocolate, hot cider, or coffee. Go to a local theater to take in a Christmas musical or play. Enjoy a holiday concert or even a ballet performance of “The Nutcracker.” 

Plan a big gift exchange 

If opening gifts together was a tradition you always had in the past, consider planning a big gift exchange so your loved one can enjoy opening presents with the family. Not only will they enjoy receiving some packages, but they’ll also get to share the joy of watching others in the family open their presents as well. If you have children, get them involved in making homemade cards and items that their grandparent will enjoy. You can also give your parent some great ideas for gifts they can give to their grandchildren. They’ll love watching the kids squeal with excitement as they open their packages. 

Have a holiday dinner together

Depending on the size of their living area, you may be able to plan a holiday dinner at your loved one’s place, whether you make it yourself or have the feast catered. If there’s not enough room for a holiday dinner, consider having the dinner at your home and bring your senior along for a festive meal that’s packed with fun, laughter, and plenty of time with family. 

Make Long-Distance Family Seem Closer with Technology(video chats)

Even if everyone in the family can’t make it to the holiday festivities at the assisted living community, you can use technology to make family seem closer. Video chats with Skype or Facetime make it easy for you to bring in long-distance relatives for the gift exchange or the family dinner. Seeing the faces of loved ones will make the world feel a little smaller and add to their joy.  

Bring out the old photos 

Even if your senior’s memory isn’t quite what it used to be, looking at holiday photos from years gone by can bring back some wonderful memories. Bring a photo album full of pictures from past celebrations or consider creating a digital slideshow of favorite photos that can be shared on a laptop or tablet. 

While you can’t recreate the celebrations of holidays past, you can create some new traditions and memories. What your loved one needs the most is love and caring this holiday season, so make sure you take the time to bring a little good cheer to their assisted living community this year. 

This piece is part of our Healthy Aging Handbook, read the next one to learn more about helping aging parents: How to Find Lasting Love in Assisted Living
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