6 Ways to Celebrate the Holidays with the Entire Family

Celebrating the holidays means different things to different people. Maybe for you it means gathering with a large group of friends and family and enjoying a festive feast. Or it could mean a quiet celebration watching your children or grandchildren opening presents. However you celebrate, one thing’s for sure: the best celebrations are ones we share with others.

“As you’re planning your holiday celebrations this year, remember to include opportunities for your loved one with dementia to celebrate with you, as well,” says Cindy Wirth, Executive Director of Bridges® by EPOCH at Sudbury, a memory care assisted living community in Sudbury, MA. “This can be a meaningful and purposeful time for them, with the opportunity to participate in beloved traditions and be surrounded by those who care about them. This can make a big difference in their quality of life, both at the holidays and throughout the upcoming year.”

The best ways to celebrate, says Cindy, revolve around activities that bring us together, are simple and mentally stimulating. “Finding family-friendly activities that can be enjoyed by young and old alike will truly make the season bright,” she says. “Although exchanging gifts and enjoying a big holiday dinner are highlights of the season, the true joy of the holidays is being with friends and family and making memories.”

With that in mind, here are six ways to help you celebrate the holidays with the entire family.

1. Involve your senior loved one in holiday preparations. 

We call it the holiday “season” because there’s just so much to do and experience before the actual celebration. Many of these tasks and activities are some of our most beloved traditions, like decorating the home, baking cookies or sending holiday cards. Whenever possible, involve your loved one with dementia. Throw a cookie-decorating party and invite young and old alike to create a personalized plate of goodies. Take a group shopping trip to purchase items for those on your list. Preparing will get everyone in the holiday spirit and help connect young and old in meaningful ways.

2. Enjoy the sounds of the season. 

There are so many ways to enjoy music during the holidays. From themed radio stations to concerts to TV specials and more, there’s always something holly-jolly piping through the air to hum along with. Holiday carols truly connect young and old in a way that other activities can’t touch. Best of all, music is a fantastic form of therapy for those with dementia, because the music is closely linked to emotions and memories. Hold a holiday sing-along, attend a concert with your loved ones or simply put on music as you’re doing other festive activities. You may be surprised at what memories and moments your loved one’s favorite tunes will conjure up.

3. Hold a movie night. 

From Elf to It’s a Wonderful Life, there are so many classic holiday movies that we’ve loved for decades. Pop some popcorn, pull out the cozy blankets and throw a movie night featuring classics both old and new. Watching movies is a great activity for seniors who may not be overly mobile but still want a chance to relax and enjoy time with their family. Plus, it’s something that entertains everyone from the smallest of the small to the oldest of the old.

4. Take a trip down memory lane. 

Reminiscing about past holidays (and other happy events) can be very meaningful for seniors with dementia. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to share traditions and let the younger generation know their family’s history. Props like old holiday cards, photo albums, favorite ornaments and other objects can be great prompts for stimulating memories and conversation. Here are some questions you can ask everyone gathered:

  • What is your favorite holiday treat?
  • What’s your favorite family tradition?
  • What’s your favorite movie and why?
  • What are you thankful for?

5. Be creative.

Arts and crafts abound during the holiday season. Whether you’re making decorations for the home, turning food into works of art or even building a snowman, there are lots of things to do with your hands that can be displayed as a tribute to the season. Hold a craft night to get everyone in the season and get in touch with their inner artist. Here are some ideas for fun crafts that everyone can do together:

  • Baking and decorating cookies
  • Painting ornaments
  • Creating holiday wreaths
  • Stringing popcorn or paper chains to drape around the tree
  • Wrapping gifts

6. Enjoy the outdoors. 

If it’s not too cold and the sun is shining, there are plenty of fun things to do in the great outdoors. A simple stroll around the block is a great way to get the blood pumping and to see all the holiday lights. (You can also jump into the car in the evening and drive around to look at all the houses decked in their merry finest.) There are many winter festivals and events that take place during this season, whether it’s a tree-lighting ceremony at the Mayor’s pavilion, visits from Santa or festive open houses. Take a look at the events that your community is hosting and gather up friends and family to attend. Afterward, head back to your place for hot cocoa and cookies to top off the evening.

“Whatever you choose to do this holiday season, be flexible and remember the reason that the holidays are so merry and bright,” says Cindy. “The time we have with our family is precious, and by including everyone – from children to seniors with dementia – in our celebrations, we’ll be creating memories to share for a lifetime, and cherished traditions that will live on for future generations to reminisce, to enjoy and to carry on.”

Engaging Lifestyle.

Bridges® by EPOCH at Sudbury provides exceptional memory care in a comfortable, upbeat and engaging environment. Designed specifically to support people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, Bridges® by EPOCH creates a wellness-focused lifestyle that respects individual preferences. Our teams receive ongoing, specialized training so they may help residents to safely exercise their independence and individuality in a secure, calm environment.

Dedicated Memory Care

We provide complete peace of mind for families and residents experiencing early-, mid- or late-stage memory loss. Our expert dementia care, Personalized Services and personalized programs are tailored to meet the physical, cognitive and emotional needs of each resident wherever they are on their journey, allowing them to age in place safely, comfortably and with respect.

Welcoming, Purpose-Built Design

Bridges® by EPOCH at Sudbury is more than a safe, beautiful place to live; it’s truly a home, where compassionate, dementia-educated caregivers help people with memory loss live more joyful lives and where families enjoy spending time together again. Our research-based design features soft lighting and colors, non-glare flooring, directional cues, aromatherapy and interactive life-enrichment stations that empower residents to comfortably move about their homes with confidence.

Contact us today to learn more.

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