Fa La La La La…The holiday season is a time of celebration, joy, and feasting. For many seniors, however, it can be difficult to stay positive during this time, as they often struggle with physical, financial and emotional difficulties that may steal the joy they once felt. Watching everyone else share happy times with loved ones can make the feeling of loneliness and isolation even worse. Understanding these issues and adjusting holiday plans to accommodate them can help make this a happy, rewarding time for every generation.
First, understand that not all seniors are sweet little Grandmothers waiting for their families to cross the river and drive through the woods to her house. That notion is as outdated as the horse-drawn sleigh in the song, carrying the family to Grandmother’s house – which may not be a house but an assisted-living facility. Grandmother may not welcome her visitors with hugs and gingerbread; she misses her old friends and does not feel like making new ones. Besides, the facility does not allow her to cook or bake; even if it did, her fixed income means she cannot afford the ingredients, and her arthritis makes it hard to get around a kitchen.
Feeling sad and lonely during the holidays is OK and quite common; people of all ages struggle with these emotions, even during this supposedly “most wonderful time of the year”. Whether you’re spending the holidays and New Year’s with your family, partner, friends, or alone, start the year off on the right foot with these party ideas for older adults.
- Share Happy Memories – Younger family members love to hear about how holidays were celebrated decades ago, but the stories should not be about how much better things used to be. Instead, use old photos, songs and stories to create a joyful mood. Talk about changes that have brought new ways to celebrate or have even improved upon old
ways. Let everyone appreciate the old traditions while making new ones.
- Spend Wisely – You do not have to spend your Social Security benefits on gifts and holiday parties to pay for extravagant parties. The best part of the holidays is the love and togetherness we experience with each other. Just like with any expense, make a budget and stick to it. If you are up to it, baking cookies, making home-made ornaments, photobooks, or even offering to babysit for busy young parents can be the best gift anyone receives.
- Ask for Help – Physical or financial problems do not have to take you out of holiday celebrations completely. Instead, you might just need a little help. Ask family members to shop and wrap gifts for you, help you decorate or lend a hand in cooking or baking. Chances are they will be glad you allowed them to help you after all you
have done for them.
- Get Nostalgic – Give your party a nostalgic theme. Pick your favorite decade and have everyone dress like someone from that era: flappers and Zoot suiters from the ’20s, rock ’n rollers from the ’50s, hippies from the ‘60s. Not into costumes? Play “Who Am I?” Give each guest the name of a famous person from the chosen decade and have them guess their identity. Then, make it a little more challenging by having them sing a hit song from that time.
- Play Games – Guests of all ages will enjoy Charades and Scattergories, which are fun and give seniors a needed brain workout. Try board games like Uno and Scrabble. Make up your own New Year’s Bingo game, with each square carrying a symbol of the new year; you can find other ideas online with a Google search of “New Year’s Eve Bingo.”
- Get Out of the House – Your local senior center will probably host a New year’s Eve party. If you do not have a senior center nearby, check local houses of worship, community centers or other organizations. All it takes is a simple “New Year’s events near me” on Google. (Add the phrase “for seniors” if you like, but you might have as much fun at an all-ages event.)
- Screen Favorite Movies – Pop some popcorn and watch a New Year’s-themed movie. You can find many on your favorite streaming services. Here are a few suggestions, both contemporary and classic: New Year’s Eve, When Harry Met Sally, An Affair to Remember, Bridget Jones’s Diary and The Apartment.
- Celebrate in Another Country –Well, sort of. Plan your celebration according to the time zone of another country. Midnight in London is 7 p.m. in Miami, for instance. Decorate the room like the place inspiring your party and serve the location’s food. You can do this in any time zone, of course, not just another country.
With a lifetime of knowledge and experiences, the seniors in our lives have lots to celebrate and share. Those who come after them have a responsibility to safeguard their legacies by protecting their tangible assets and preserving precious memories. To get started with a free phone consultation regarding estate planning or elder law questions, contact us at (954) 251-0332 or firstname.lastname@example.org Our attorneys are fluent in English, Spanish and Russian.