WOODLAND — The holidays can be a wonderful time of year, when families and friends gather to share the old times and the new. Yet for seniors, the joy of the gatherings and the season in general can be a mixed blessing as eager anticipation can give way to additional stress. The staff at Palm Gardens offer helpful holiday tips to make the season a joyous one for everyone.
“Seniors recognize that the best gift of all is spending time with family and friends. Unhurried, uncomplicated time together means the most and creates memories for everyone involved. Give the best gift of all — your time,” said Laura Wayman for Palm Gardens.
10 tips to help make the most of the holidays:
* Quiet is good. Many seniors live in environments that are relatively quiet, with a limited amount of activity in a day. Think about how much stimulation may be in your environment and limit the number of activities or the amount of time seniors are involved in them. Loud family gatherings can be a bit much after a while, so a quiet place to sit down may be a good refuge.
* Be the senior for a moment. Before an event begins, put yourself in your senior’s shoes. Do you have difficulty walking? Do you have trouble remembering names? Plan ahead to make adjustments that can help make the situation more amenable. It can be as simple as moving furniture and making nametags.
* Share a holiday tradition. Invite a senior to share a favorite holiday memory or tradition. Maybe it’s a favorite cookie, decorations, arranging a centerpiece or a favorite movie or song that you can share with them.
* Appreciate limitations. Encourage older family members to take it easy and let you pamper them for a change. Let them help with smaller, less complicated tasks if they wish to participate.
* Encourage these great storytellers. Many older relatives live in their memories. Encourage them to talk about holidays gone by. If they keep albums, ask to see the pictures. They may have some wonderful traditions from their childhood that you can incorporate into your own family’s plans.
* Share a favorite meal together. Prepare a dish the senior loved as a child or once prepared as a holiday tradition. Try involving seniors in the process, instead of making the dish for them, allowing them to feel helpful and needed.
* Give a hand with holiday décor. Decorations add so much to the holiday season. Help loved ones feel at home during the holidays by setting up their Christmas tree or Menorah with them. Again, having them help you put ornaments on the tree or plugging in the lights can make seniors feel helpful and involved.
* Drive around town. Many seniors don’t drive as much as they used to, but they’d still love to see the holiday decorations put up by retail stores and overzealous neighbors.
* Stay in touch. For seniors it’s so important to know you are thinking of them during the holidays, especially those who are alone. Seniors today are of the generation that loves the simple things: a note in the mail, or a phone call. Invite them for a cup of coffee. It doesn’t have to be much; it’s the thought that counts.
* Help with mobility. If a senior is coming for a visit, remove slippery throw rugs and items that could present barriers to a senior who has difficulty walking or balance problems.
— Woodland’s Palm Gardens is operated by Integral Senior Living, which manages independent living, assisted-living and memory-care properties. For information, all 530-661-0574 or visit www.palmgardensal.com