The holiday season is upon us. It’s a time of family, friends and celebrations. The season evokes memories of good times and longing for days-gone-by. This time of year can be especially hard for our mature loved ones who may be dealing with illness or mobility issues, the loss of friends or being distant from family. It can leave them feeling a little lonely. A little TLC can go a long way to brighten your loved one’s holidays and help them feel part of the festivities. When making your plans, try some of these special touches to be sure they feel included and loved.
Extend an Invitation
There’s nothing quite as heart-warming that getting a personal invitation to a get together. It’s easy to assume someone knows they’re invited. That isn’t always so. Distance, special needs or limitations, even cultural mores can influence feelings of inclusion. It is not uncommon for someone struggling with illness or limitations to feel that they would be a “bother” and avoid attending events. Extending an invitation says, “We love you and want you to be part of the celebration.”
Bring the Love to Them
For some loved ones, travel isn’t an option even with the best planning. A great way to include them is to bring the party to them. Gather a few friends or family, bring some yummy traditional treats and spend an afternoon with the ones you love. Maybe it’s an afternoon watching favorite movies or eating Grandma’s famous sugar cookies. When it comes to spending time, it is more about being together than it is about the activity. Knowing someone loves you and cares for you has been shown to be a powerful influence on one’s health and sense of well-being.
Make Thoughtful Adjustments
One of the things people with needs worry about most is whether they can navigate a venue or a situation. As you’re planning, think about your loved one’s needs and ways to discreetly manage them. Have options discreetly available. Easy-to-hold utensils and cups can be a welcome touch for those who struggle with plastic dinnerware so common at gatherings. The mature and sophisticated design of Classy Pal adult bibs allow your loved one to feel confident and secure while eating. Clear paths and remove throw rugs for those with mobility needs. It’s the little discreet adjustments that can make your loved one feel included and independent.
Ask the Expert
Our mature loved ones were at one time independent and vibrant and probably had significant roles in the family holiday planning. It can be hard to “pass the torch” be it due to age or illness or mobility issues. Maybe your mom was the cook. Maybe dad was the turkey carver. It might be hard for them to see someone else doing “their job”. As you’re planning the holiday, ask your loved one for input or help. To the extent they can, allow them to do their “job” with you. Maybe Great Grandmother’s dressing recipe lives on only in your mom’s head. Do you really want to miss the chance to learn that secret? Feeling useful and having purpose is a significant factor in one’s sense of happiness and well-being.
Make Time for Memories
Chances are, your loved one grew up in a very different time. They’ve seen and experienced a lot in their lifetimes that you won’t find in any book. Holidays are a great time to reminisce and hear the family stories and lore. Storytelling brings generations together and bonds us in ways that few other things can. It’s an opportunity for the Sage to impart their wisdom. Reminiscing is also a powerful way for your loved one to flex their cognitive muscles. How much do you know about your family’s history and your loved one’s experience of it? Now is the time to ask the questions, hear the stories, share old memories and make some new ones.
Little Connections, Big Impact
Whether your loved one is able to be with you or they’re miles away, you can keep the connection strong. Sharing moments with them is easier than ever with today’s technology. Share the magic moments of the season with them. Skype or FaceTime is a great way to share a moment (think grandchild’s Christmas play, a unique light display, etc.) in real time. Text or call with well wishes or even just check-in. Send pictures. And, even though we’re in a tech-immersed world, for many, a lovely card received in the mailbox is still the best “I Love You” ever. Those small connections we make can yield a big impact. Knowing someone cares for us and is thinking of us makes us feel safe, secure and loved.
When it comes to loved ones, the old saying, “Little things mean a lot” says it all. Grand gestures are nice but their impact quickly fades. Little, everyday kindnesses send a message of love and caring that cannot be matched. It costs nothing to be kind and what you receive in return is priceless.
We at Classy Pal hope that you and your loved ones find those special moments to cherish this holiday season.