How to Have Age-Inclusive Holiday Meals and Celebrations
Gathering family members and multiple generations under one roof for holiday meals and celebrations is a tradition for most families. Sharing delicious food, presents and beloved rituals creates memories and unites us. But with busy lives and family often spread out across the country, achieving that memorable holiday feel is often particularly challenging. It’s important to make sure family members of all ages feel included in the festivities, especially the elderly folks. Here are some special considerations to help your senior enjoy these special days.
- Seating and Safety – A home that isn’t equipped to accommodate an older adult with mobility issues or other physical limitations can present safety hazards for seniors. When seating a senior at the dinner table, positioning them at the end allows for clear distance and ease of movement. Be sure to remove any fall hazards, like small area rugs or clutter in hallways.
- Assign your senior a “partner” – Ask a younger family member to look after the older adult, making sure he or she has what they need and is comfortable. This designated partner should also make every effort to include the senior in conversations so they aren’t feeling left out. It’s good practice for younger children to become confident around seniors.
- Dietary Concerns – Although being aware of dietary restrictions applies to all family members, older adults with chronic health issues such as diabetes require more menu planning and scrutiny. Add some healthier alternatives to the fat- and sugar-laden holiday favorites. Many seniors need to avoid spicy foods or have difficulty swallowing.
- Be Patient – Older adults usually move at a slower pace and this is particularly true with mealtimes. Don’t rush courses or make the senior family member think they are holding up the celebration. Just as you accommodate younger children, adjust the pace of the meal accordingly.
- Alzheimer’s Concerns – If your senior family member has dementia, remember that large gatherings, changes in routine and higher noise levels cause discomfort and higher stress levels for them. Being cognizant of pacing and expectations is especially important for a senior with dementia. Offer to take them to a quiet room for breaks from the activities. But don’t forget to engage them in conversations with memory cues, such as mentioning events they remember and enjoyed.
With a little extra planning and care, all your family’s generations will enjoy the special holiday meals and celebrations this season.
SeniorLiving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (866) 662-0435 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local area.