While moving to a senior living facility is always a big transition, the first holiday season in a new home can be daunting—but it doesn’t have to be.
Between community activities, day trips and time with friends and family, there is a lot to love about the holiday season.
Moving to a senior living center can be overwhelming, and the stress the holidays can bring will likely compound that. But the pros at the facility have a plan to help residents enjoy this time of year.
“Staff understand that this is a very normal thing; people do get down, so it is important for the community to beef up activities during that time,” said Matt Gallardo, director of community engagement and life coach for Messiah Lifeways, which runs two resident communities for older adults in Pennsylvania.
Senior Communities Offer a Lineup of Holiday Fun
Many communities offer holiday-themed activities like dances, concerts and special meals, but sometimes new residents need a nudge to get involved.
“For most people, breaking that ice is important, but sometimes they need encouragement, and that can either be by staff or family,” Gallardo noted.
If your loved one has recently moved to a senior living community, he recommends working with the staff to find an activity that will pique their interest.
In addition, family members should work to keep their holiday traditions alive.
“Don’t change the routine; maintain the traditions you’ve always had,” Gallardo added. “Just because your address has changed shouldn’t change the fact that you still want to help with the holiday dinner, visiting relatives or holiday shopping.”
If possible, taking your loved one out on day trips to participate in the holiday activities they’ve always loved will go a long way. If your loved one can’t leave the community for long periods of time, bring those activities to them. For example, bringing the family’s gifts to the community and have a wrapping party night. While this may seem like a small holiday task to you, it may mean the world to them.
Your loved one doesn’t have to give up years of happy holiday memories at home now that they’ve moved. To help keep those memories alive, Gallardo recommends one simple, but often overlooked activity: holiday decorating.
“Decorations are a big part of celebrating the holiday,” he said. “Put up the tree. Help Mom or Dad decorate their apartment just as they did in their own home.”
Those long-used decorations can help make a new living space feel like home—and create a sense of belonging and joy during the holiday season.
New Traditions for a New Life in Senior Housing
Creating new holiday traditions can help your loved one adjust to a new living arrangement. For example, many senior living communities encourage the entire family to gather on-site for a holiday celebration.
“Reserve or even rent a room in the facility, if you want to have your own little private Christmas party with your family,” Gallardo said.
Once you have the room booked, invite the entire family, bring in gifts or food and even decorate a little. Having this time to spend with extended family can help create a link between you and your loved one while creating new holiday memories.