The holidays are steeped in memories and cultural traditions. They represent the foundation of our family through a sense of history and define who we are and where we come from. But keeping up with traditions is difficult as we age, and letting go of them can cause strife within the family.
The best way to handle this situation during the holidays is to plan ahead by understanding your elders’ energy level versus their need to keep up traditions in the same way. You may find that having everyone over in a single day is overwhelming for them and no longer enjoyable. Or there may be activities they no longer feel comfortable participating in, like a walk through the woods after dinner. You can plan another activity for them or modify the ones you have been doing the same way for years.
Splitting up gatherings into smaller, more intimate social events is especially important if your elder is living with a memory impairment. Smaller groups that are timed to allow them to keep their routine will help them from getting agitated and overwhelmed. It will also be easier for someone with a hearing impairment to take part in conversations. Our Aging Life Care Advisor™/Care Manager team can help you figure out the best way to manage changes to these traditions. And if family members push back, you have a professional behind you to add weight to the decision.
As you create new traditions, it is important to bring other family members into the discussion and ask what part of the holiday they would like to keep, and which they are willing to let go. You may find that the meal that takes hours to prepare is less important to everyone than gathering to sing carols or watch a favorite holiday movie. Paring down the menu or catering the meal will free up more time so that no one is stressed leading up to the event and everyone enjoys their time together.
Hold onto what you can, but remain flexible. You may not be able to get to Midnight Mass, but you can watch it on TV together. Your elder may not be able to bake the family’s favorite cookie by themselves, but a Springpoint at Home Certified Home Health Aide can supervise and take on tasks that are no longer safe, like using the oven. If your elder can no longer walk around the neighborhood after dinner, a family member or a Springpoint at Home Aging Life Care Advisor™/Care Manager can take them to see holiday lights or other things they loved to do as a child.
Change to traditions can be difficult, and it is okay to mourn what is no longer possible. But when we reframe and think of these changes as positive they become new, beautiful traditions which can live on for even more years to come.
To learn more about Springpoint at Home and the help we can provide, please call 844-724-1777.