Tips for engaging elderly loved ones during the holidays

By Wendy Johnstone
December 7, 2012

 

There is an undeniable excitement in the air at the Johnstone-Ram household.

It starts first thing in the morning when my six-year-old, upon waking, flies to the living room with two things on her mind. One is the Lego Advent Calendar, which shamelessly I purchased primarily for my inner child.

My daughter picked up on this vibe early and to date, hasn’t allowed me to open any of the little doors or create the holiday scene. Not completely void of goodwill, she does however let me play with the “extra” pieces.

Once the Lego is crossed off the list, Carly leaps over to the calendar to cross off the day before and count how many more sleeps until we leave for Toronto. This will be her very first Christmas with my side of family.

I’m equally vibrating with excitement as it’s been over 10 years since I’ve spent a Christmas with my Mom, siblings and nieces and nephews.

Although all my grandparents have died, I still have a multitude of aging family and friends, some of whom are now well into their 80s and 90s.

This translates into large gatherings and afternoon visits at assisted living and residential care facilities; the perfect way to lift spirits and bring a good dose of holiday cheer into the lives of those I cherish.

When in “party mode,” I tend to forget all the advice I give others about aging and caring for elderly family members. These tips for including aging family members in holiday celebrations are as much for me as they are for you!

Holiday visits are typically centred around good food and conversation.

Keep the following communication tips in mind when spending time with your aging loved ones.

Wendy Johnstone is a gerontologist and is the founder of Keystone Eldercare Planning. Her column runs in the Comox Valley Record every second Friday.

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