If you recently made the decision to move one or both of your parents into assisted living, you’re probably wondering how you can bring some of the pieces of their old lives into their new living arrangement. For many families, the holidays are a time to gather and be merry, which may raise questions as to how you can celebrate with your parents when they’re in a senior living home.
Thankfully, there are several ways you can make sure your parents are included and that they get to feel just as much love as they do every year. With a bit of planning and time management, you can be a part of their best holiday season yet.
Here are four tips that can help you make this time of year one that your parents will treasure:
1. Check out events at the assisted living community
The team at your parents’ assisted living community cares a lot about your parents and their happiness. Many of them are aware that holidays spent in senior living can be a new change. There’s a good chance they’ll deck the halls of the community to make this time of year a festive one.
There’s also a good chance that the team will host or partake in holiday events. Perhaps a local choir will visit to sing Christmas carols, or maybe the community will host a game night or holiday party. Making yourself aware of these events and planning your visit to align with them can be a great way to mix the old with the new, meet your parents’ new friends, and let your parents know that you’re interested in their daily lives.
2. Get the whole family involved
If you were to ask your parents what they wanted for the holidays, their honest answer would probably include being able to see their children and grandchildren. Whether your siblings live across the country or across the globe, try planning a visit to your parents in advance and letting everyone know about it. If you have kids of your own (even if they’ve moved out for college), your parents would probably love to see them.
Of course, not everyone can make a visit work for their budget and schedule. Consider contacting family members several months in advance, and be prepared for some of them to say no. There are still plenty of ways to get everyone involved. For example, you could organize family Skype and video calls and then help your parents set them up. They’d probably appreciate your assistance and would certainly love to see their family’s faces, whether it’s digitally or in person.
3. Send love to your parents
One of the best ways to let someone know you’re thinking of them is to send them something. It can be a card, a letter, or even flowers, but no matter what it is, it can surprise and delight the recipient. Your parents are no different!
You may be the family member who lives too far away from the assisted living community to make a visit. Or perhaps you reached out to your siblings and many of them simply can’t afford the trip back. Sending a thoughtful gift can warm your parents’ spirits and give everyone the chance to get involved.
One fun idea is to create a scrapbook early in the year with pictures and quotes from your family. You could mail it around to other siblings and have them add in pages with their families. Once it cycles all the way around, you’ll have a personal, collaborative gift that your parents are sure to love.
4. Help your parents send love to others
Even though your parents have reached a point in their lives where they need assistance with some of their everyday activities, there’s still a level of independence that they would probably like to maintain. Do your parents have any traditions that you could help them carry out this year? For example, maybe they traditionally send cards to their friends every year.
It may mean more than you know to ask your parents if you could bring the family out to help them write, stamp, and address cards. If you have kids, they may love the opportunity to draw pictures and sign their names. By simply remembering what matters to your parents and helping them make sure it happens, you’ll be giving them two invaluable gifts: your thoughts and your time.
Remember what matters
The holiday season can be stressful for many families. If this is your first year celebrating with your parents in assisted living, that stress may seem like it will multiply. But as the end of the year draws near and life gets busier, it’s important to keep sight of what’s really important: love and family.
By following one or more of the tips above, you’ll celebrate these two things with your parents and with the rest of your family. And even if all you can do is show up to your parents’ senior living community with a smile and a few hours to spare, they’ll love that the child they love so much wants to see them and share that love. Happy holidays!