Ensuring a Successful Thanksgiving for Seniors
Thanksgiving is a special time of year. We come together with our families to share a large meal and give thanks for all of the many blessings in life. Everyone, from the youngest to the oldest, takes time out of their busy lives to join around the table and reconnect with each other, reflecting on the many good things that have happened over the past year.
When it comes to celebrating Thanksgiving with senior family members, unique challenges can be present. Enjoying festivities as an aging adult can be difficult. Family members may live far away, there may be physical and mental challenges, dietary restrictions can be an issue, or a host of other health conditions that seniors face. Finding joy in the season can be hard.
Family members tasked with the responsibility of a senior loved one know that it’s important to help them celebrate the holiday and feel included. Finding special ways to help them enjoy the festivities can be a bit tricky. We’ve listed some helpful tips below to help make celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday a little bit easier.
Transportation and Location
One of the most important things to keep in mind when it comes to the holiday is the location of the festivities. Choosing the right location for the senior is vital. In previous years, many different factors were probably taken into consideration when choosing where Thanksgiving would be hosted. Ease of travel should now be a bigger priority for senior family members. If it is possible to host the event in their home, great! Even if they are no longer able to plan and prepare the meals themselves, hosting in their home is a good option. It also removes any issues with transportation altogether.
For those seniors living in a skilled nursing or assisted living facility, organizing easy and safe transportation to and from the event can help to reduce the stress and anxiety your loved one may be feeling about participating in the holiday.
Encourage Your Senior Family Member to Participate
In previous years, it is very likely that your senior loved one planned, prepared, and hosted Thanksgiving festivities in their home. When the time comes that they are no longer capable of doing so, it’s really important to keep them engaged in the planning and preparation process. Ask for their advice and opinions when planning the meal. You can also encourage them to share their favorite holiday recipes. Seniors can help to decorate for the occasion or make handwritten place cards for seating (which can also be saved as keepsakes). Have them send notes to family members who cannot participate in the festivities to help them stay connected with family they may not be able to see as often.
Aging seniors feel needed, appreciated, and gain a sense of purpose when they actively participate in planning the Thanksgiving celebration. Physical or mental limitations do not mean your senior loved one wants to be a passive bystander at family gatherings and holiday events.
Provide Healthier Food Choices
When you think of the foods traditionally prepared for a Thanksgiving feast, what comes to mind? Rich, savory, and fatty foods that often include sugary desserts. Turkey, ham, potatoes, mac and cheese, dressing and gravy, cakes, and sweet potato pie are all staples of the holiday meal, but may not be the best option for seniors with dietary restrictions. While it is ok to still serve these tasty dishes, it’s important to keep these restrictions in mind. Your senior loved one may be suffering from heart disease, diabetes, or a host of other medical issues that can be adversely affected by certain foods. By offering more healthy food options, your senior family member can still enjoy the day without feeling left out.
Make Space for Accommodations
Thanksgiving celebrations usually include a large number of family members and space can become limited very quickly. This may not be an issue for the younger generation, but seniors with mobility or balance issues will find it much more difficult to move around freely and easily in a tight space. Be sure to take into consideration the reasonable amount of space the senior will need to move around comfortably during the event to allow them to enjoy the festivities with the rest of the family. When the senior requires the use of a wheelchair or walker, being unable to move around in tight spaces can lead to feelings of discomfort and embarrassment.
Thanksgiving has always been a special time of year for families. We come together to not only give thanks but to bond and reconnect, share stories and pass down family traditions.
We gather together with family members from far and wide to give thanks for each other and all the blessings in our lives. At Elderberry Healthcare we understand that it can also be a difficult time for families with aging seniors. We provide many services to help make this time less difficult for everyone including scheduled transportation for outings, and assistance with bathing, dressing, and personal grooming for the event. Contact us today to learn more.