Moving to a senior living community can benefit older adults in a variety of ways. A broad range of amenities and services, enhanced opportunities to socialize, engaging and stimulating programming, and access to a broad continuum of care are just some of the rewards they stand to reap in a quality community. Not to mention, they get to leave behind all the burdensome chores of private homeownership, which frees up time that they can now devote to their favorite pursuits and passions.
Notwithstanding the myriad of benefits, making the move to a senior community does require some adjustment for older adults as well as for their loved ones. The holiday season can be especially challenging in this regard as families try to figure out how the new living arrangement will impact their cherished traditions.
However, according to Gayle Young, Director of Marketing, Communication and Public Relations for Sunset Retirement Communities, taking some of the following simple steps will help families keep their holiday traditions alive—and even create some exciting new ones—during this transitional period.
Decorate the new living space
“At all of Sunset’s communities, residents are encouraged to personalize their living spaces so they feel right at home,” Young explains. “At holiday time, this could involve getting together as a family for a decorating party. For example, you could string a few lights and garlands and perhaps set up a table-top Christmas tree while listening to your favorite carols and sipping a little eggnog. To create a sense of continuity, it’s helpful to incorporate some decorations with sentimental value that are part of your family heritage.”
Involve your senior loved one in holiday happenings
Just because your loved one is now residing in a new community doesn’t mean he or she can’t still take part in many of the same holiday activities your family has always enjoyed together, for instance visiting the Toledo Zoo’s “Lights Before Christmas” display, taking in a local performance of The Nutcracker or A Christmas Carol, or simply getting together to bake a few batches of cookies. In fact, reinforcing these holiday traditions is especially important in this period of adjustment.
Take part in the community’s activities
The holiday season can be a lively time in senior communities, with all sorts of festive activities, special meals, outings, performances, etc. on the agenda that are open to families. Why not take advantage of these offerings to get together and share a little quality time and holiday cheer? “In addition to participating in scheduled community activities, you could pick an evening or two to gather in your senior loved one’s room, apartment, or villa to visit, write holiday cards, or reminisce while looking over holiday photo albums or scrapbooks,” says Young.
Also, if your family typically celebrates the holidays with large get-togethers, be sure to inquire about accommodations. Many senior communities feature event/activity rooms, clubhouses, or other common spaces that can be reserved to host larger gatherings.
Consider your senior loved one’s capabilities
Though it’s vital to involve your senior loved one in holiday activities, it’s also important to be aware of any limitations he or she may have that could interfere with the ability to enjoy or participate fully in the celebration. For example, consider whether he or she has limited mobility, making it difficult to climb stairs; incontinence issues that necessitate frequent, easy access to a bathroom; cognitive challenges that cause your loved one to become overwhelmed easily by excessive activity or a change in location; or special medical needs that are difficult to meet off-site. “None of these circumstances should prevent you from enjoying one another’s company to the fullest during the holiday season, but keep in mind that your loved one may require special accommodations and, in some cases, the best option may be to hold your celebration at the senior community where expert assistance is close at hand,” Young says.
For more information on Sunset Retirement Communities, please visit www.sunset-communities.org or call: Fieldstone Villas at Sunset Village at 419-386-2686; Sunset House at 419-536-4645; Sunset Village at 419-724-1200; The Woodlands at 419-724-1220; or Ashanti Hospice and Palliative Care at 419-724-1047. ❦