Woman standing at a festival holiday mantelThe holiday season is a time for joy, togetherness, and creating happy new memories with family and friends. For families with senior loved ones who live in continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs), there are countless ways to ensure that their elderly family members feel included and cherished during this festive time. That’s because these communities are geared toward enjoying life to the fullest. They strive to keep seniors connected with family, friends, neighbors, and the wider community all year, but especially during the holidays.

Here are some strategies for celebrating holidays with loved ones in senior living community settings.

Plan Ahead

To ensure a smooth and enjoyable holiday season, plan well in advance. Coordinate with the CCRC staff to understand their holiday schedule, including any special events or activities. This will help spending time with family coincide with the community’s offerings or avoid overlap, depending on your plans and your loved one’s preferences.

If visiting in person isn’t possible, or you’d like to spend time with your senior family member in more ways throughout the season, arrange some video calls. Share family news, ask questions about recipes or family history, play games, and do everything you can to make your loved one feel part of the festivities.

Continue Family Holiday Traditions

There’s no reason you can’t keep your most cherished holiday rituals alive, from the most common family holiday traditions to those unique to your kith and kin. Consider making family recipes together, bringing special music to play, exchanging ornaments, or cracking open a family photo album. Whatever your traditions are, there’s likely a way to continue them (at least in some form) at a CCRC.

Plan Additional Activities

Here are some additional ideas for holiday activities for seniors:

  • Decorate their space. Transform your loved one’s living space into a festive haven. Bring in holiday decorations, lights, and ornaments that reflect their personal style and memories. Decorating together can be a fun bonding experience.
  • Include them in meal or dessert preparation. Whether you’re going with family traditions or trying something new, preparing holiday foods together can foster a festive spirit while also supporting senior brain health. Involve your loved one in the process in any way you can. Ask about their favorite memories, have them help with prep tasks, or ask questions about family secret recipes. This will help them to feel needed while also engaging their memory and conversational capabilities.
  • Do holiday crafts together. Engage in holiday-themed arts and crafts activities. Create handmade decorations, cards, or ornaments together. These creations can be used to adorn your senior loved one’s living space or share as gifts. Don’t worry about the results; sometimes less-than-perfect handicrafts can be a good source of laughter and happy memories that are all the better for their imperfections!
  • Watch holiday movies. Consider planning a cozy movie night featuring classic holiday films — especially your senior family member’s favorites, or those from their childhood. Popcorn, warm blankets, low-alcohol or mock cocktails, and a selection of heartwarming movies can make for a delightful evening.
  • Attend CCRC events. Many CCRCs organize holiday-themed events and gatherings. Encourage your loved one (and the whole family) to participate in carol singing, tree lighting ceremonies, festive dinners, and other activities.
  • Give gifts with special meaning. Select gifts that will hold sentimental value, such as personalized photo gifts, memory books, or items related to your loved one’s hobbies and interests.
  • Enjoy nature. Get some fresh air and take a leisurely stroll or wheelchair ride in the CCRC’s outdoor spaces. Have your senior family member take you on a tour of their favorite spots. Appreciating the natural beauty and festive decorations can really uplift spirits.
  • Volunteer together. Encourage your loved one to volunteer or participate in local charity drives within the CCRC. You can adapt philanthropic activities to your senior loved one’s abilities. For example, this could involve anything from sitting at a booth to knitting blankets or hats. Helping others during the holidays can bring seniors (and the whole family) a sense of fulfillment.

The holiday season is a time for giving, sharing, and creating lasting memories with family members, regardless of their living arrangements. With a little forethought and creativity, you can ensure that your senior loved ones in CCRCs have a joyful and meaningful holiday season. Together, you can make this time of year truly special and full of happy memories.

Make the Most of the Holidays at Rappahannock Westminster-Canterbury

Rappahannock Westminster-Canterbury is a continuing care community (also known as a life plan community) providing the highest quality living experience for discerning senior adults. Situated on 165 beautiful acres outside the village of Irvington in Virginia’s Northern Neck, RWC residents choose to live here for the independent and worry-free lifestyle afforded in a tranquil setting — as well as access to popular seasonal festivals and events.

At RWC, you’re only a ten-minute drive from the Chesapeake Bay or the Rappahannock River as well as a variety of creeks, estuaries, and other rivers. You’ll have access to all that our local freshwater and saltwater destinations have to offer, from outdoor recreation to dining on fresh local catches to boutique shopping.

Rappahannock Westminster-Canterbury Inc. is a Virginia nonprofit corporation affiliated with the Episcopal and Presbyterian churches. All religions are welcome. Read about our residence options and living our lifestyle!

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