The holiday season is just around the corner, meaning that everything takes on an additional sparkle– twinkling lights adorn houses, glittery bows top carefully-wrapped gifts, and party outfits are designed to dazzle. However, the holiday season may not hold the same “shine” it used to for seniors. This time of year, focused on family, friends, and traditions, also comes with reminders of what is no longer present in their lives. Many seniors’ living situations, friend groups, and close family may not resemble the holiday seasons of long ago, which can lead to a feeling of loneliness. This magical time of year is the perfect chance for families to rekindle their bond and include the seniors in their lives with fun and festive activities. Here are some joyful senior-friendly holiday activities that will put the sparkle back into the holiday season for seniors and aging loved ones.

1. Watch Holiday Movie Favorites

Grab a cozy set of blankets, a fresh batch of buttery popcorn, and gather around the television for an evening (or afternoon) of holiday movies. For younger family members, it’s a perfect chance to introduce holiday classics such as “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas Story”, or pick from a newer movie such as “Polar Express” or “Hitched for the Holidays.” If you can’t seem to find flicks like Bill Murray’s darkly hilarious “Scrooged” or the iconic “Nutcracker” ballet, scan the channels to find a sappy TV channel devoted to holiday-themed movies.

2. Wrap Presents Together

Colorful patterns, ribbons, bows, and bags are the perfect holiday-themed craft that’s also useful to get that mountain of presents wrapped! Have seniors pick out the wrapping paper and decorations that they like best for each recipient and then get the scissors and tape ready. This is an activity that can be easily modified depending on the person’s abilities. One personal touch is to buy a toy for a child in need, and have your senior write their name as the gift giver. No matter your age, giving back to those in need makes you feel golden.

3. Play Cards or Board Games

Spending time together playing cards or board games keeps everyone’s minds active, and naturally promotes conversation for those with language or articulation difficulties. Games such as Boggle or Scrabble are excellent for helping word recognition and retention, which can also improve daily vocabulary skills.

4. Ready, Set, Bake!

Baking holiday cookies, cakes, and treats was likely a part of a holiday ritual that might be long forgotten, or at least pushed to the side as one ages. Ask your senior about a recipe that they remember baking, and see if they still have the directions in a file folder or cookbook. Get your ingredients, and your family, together and bake some sweet treats! An unexpected bonus is finding a recipe written in the person’s handwriting, or even in another relative’s script. Family recipes that are passed down from one generation to the next are some of the best gifts we can receive.

5. Play Holiday Music and Sing Carols

Fa la la la la! No matter the quality of your singing voice, crooning familiar holiday songs unlocks parts of your loved one’s memory that they may not have thought about for years. Remember being a kid and singing “Jingle Bells”, “Silent Night”, and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”? Chances are your older family members do as well, and can probably tell you some great stories from their youth about them.

6. Tell Family Stories

Once you’ve opened the door by remembering holiday songs, continue to ask about family stories from past holiday gatherings. You’ll never know about the year that the holiday was almost ruined by burning the turkey, knocking over the tree, or the dog tearing into the presents if you don’t ask! Family stories only stay alive if we continue to tell and talk about them.

7. Go on a Holiday Light Tour

Pour some hot chocolate in a to-go mug and pack up the whole family on a town-wide tour of holiday lights. Some towns offer drive-thru displays or light festivals where you can follow a slow path that takes you past a variety of bright holiday decorations. Not only does this keep everyone warm, this is an excellent option for seniors with mobility issues to still participate in holiday fun.

At Nye Health Services, we recognize the changing needs of seniors and strive to provide a wide array of services, including home care. If you’re considering home care services for a loved one, contact Nye Health Services to see how our compassionate and caring team can help with daily living tasks. Meaningful activities with senior family members are about keeping holiday traditions alive while also recognizing that this is a new, and sometimes scary, time in their lives. See how Nye Health Services assists with these transitional times, so you can focus on spending quality holiday time with your elders.

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