The holiday season is often a challenging time for those in assisted living/senior care. The commotion, excitement and music can all recall earlier, happier times of Christmases past, or may bring back memories of lost loved ones, and the emphasis on home and family can be a challenge for those separated from both. That’s why it can be a challenge to create successful holiday celebrations at a senior care community. The key is to find a role for everyone based on their capabilities and strengths, and to create a fun, festive environment that honors Christmas memories while creating new ones. Here are a few ideas to do just that:
- Decorate: Throw a tree trimming party and allow the residents to participate. Try to engage the entire community of residents. Even the wheelchair bound can help hand over ornaments, string berries or popcorn together to make garlands, etc. If safety is not anissue, erect a small tabletop Christmas tree in each resident’s room and help them decorate it. Invite residents’ families to bring in a few favorite, sentimental ornaments for the tree.
- Host a Bake-Off: Ask residents to submit their favorite holiday recipes, and then help them to prepare those recipes for the rest of the community. Ask residents to taste the finished creations and to vote on the winning recipe. Consider compiling the recipes in a holiday book, or putting them in a binder, as a keepsake for the residents.
- Christmas crafts: Many seniors have skills and talents that are underutilized in everyday life. Coordinate an ornament decorating party,or bring in a pottery studio for a paint-your-own pottery class. Or ask residents to create a few of their favorite Christmas crafts, such as knitting and
woodworking, and hold a craft bazaar, with proceeds benefitting a chosen cause (maybe a struggling resident).
- Light Show: Many residents, especially those who are no longer able to drive, would enjoy a drive around town to enjoy the Christmas lights. Keep the mood fun and festive en route by providing snacks and travel mugs of warm (not hot!) cider and playing holiday music.
- Hold a Christmas Revue: Ask residents to showcase their talents by organizing a revue of songs, dances, poetry readings, etc. performed by residents. Ask residents to invite friends and family to attend, if feasible, or invite the staff to watch the show.
Incorporate one or more of these ideas into your community’s holiday festivities, or use them as inspiration for your own unique celebration. By helping your residents to celebrate the holidays in a fun and meaningful way, you bring them one step closer to feeling at home.