Want To Make Holidays Special for Your Elderly Dad?

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(Newswire.net — February 6, 2023) — When it comes to holidays, everyone deserves to feel special, needed and nurtured. This includes aging family members, like your dad. But sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start.

Make sure you have a plan for how you’ll help your dad feel included during various holidays throughout the year.

Prep Grandpa for Holiday Gatherings

Holiday gatherings can be overwhelming for seniors, especially when it involves seeing grandkids and great-grandkids who they might not have seen for a year or more. Children grow up fast and can look very different from one year to the next. This can create a sense of anxiety in elderly individuals who are already having memory challenges.

As holiday gatherings approach, spend some time preparing grandpa for who’s going to be at each event. Pull up your Facebook/Instagram and find the latest pictures of each grandchild and practice names. You might even create a small photo book with people’s names printed below the pictures.

When holiday gatherings arrive, be sure to introduce each person by name. For example, “Hey Dad, look how big Charlie has gotten! You know, he’s living out in California now. And it’s been a while, but you remember his new bride Anna.” Cordial introductions like this serve as quick reminders that prevent embarrassing moments and help grandpa feel connected.

Prioritize Traditions

Stick to familiar traditions and routines, as they can provide a sense of comfort and familiarity. However, don’t be afraid to come up with a few new traditions and celebrations that are easy for your dad to understand and participate in.

When planning out traditions, do your best to keep things as simple as possible. And never pressure grandpa into something he doesn’t want to do. The busyness of the holiday season can feel even more overwhelming when there are underlying memory issues. Sometimes it’s best to bring him into the moment without putting a ton of expectations on him.

Give Useful Gifts

Be thoughtful with the gifts you give your elderly dad. Focus on his current stage of life and what he’ll find useful and special today (which may be different from what he would have found useful and special a few years ago when he wasn’t having memory challenges).

This gift-giving guide from Daily Caring has some great options, including everyday comforts (like slippers and weighted blankets), entertaining activities (bird feeders and puzzles), and even tech tools (like digital picture frames and video calling tools).

Involve Grandpa as Much as Possible

It’s important that you involve elderly parents in the holiday season as much as possible. This includes the entire season – not just the actual holiday itself. Here are some ideas:

  • Invite him to participate in holiday traditions and rituals, such as decorating the tree or baking holiday treats.
  • Involve him in holiday preparations, such as wrapping gifts or addressing cards.
  • Plan activities that he can enjoy, such as watching holiday movies or playing games together.
  • Encourage him to share his own holiday memories and traditions with the family.
  • Provide visual cues, like photographs or mementos, to help him remember the holiday and his loved ones.
  • Show extra care and patience, as he may have trouble remembering details about the holiday or his loved ones.
  • Incorporate his hobbies, interests, or talents into the holiday celebration, like singing carols if he likes music, or reading a book out loud if he likes reading.
  • Consider taking him out for a special activity or outing, such as a visit to a holiday light display or a Christmas market.

You know your elderly dad best, so feel free to add or subtract from this list. The important thing is that you prioritize him during this busy season.

Make the Holidays Special for Everyone

When there are young kids, out-of-town visitors, meals to be prepared and served, and gifts to be wrapped and opened, it’s easy to forget about the most important part of the holidays: spending time with loved ones. While grandpa might be quieter and more reserved than he once was, make sure you’re prioritizing his experience during this special season.

By going out of your way to involve him in unique ways, you’ll make the holiday season more memorable for all.