Depression is common during the holiday season, especially among seniors. Feeling sad and alone isn’t good for seniors’ health. When you brighten the holidays for seniors, you may be increasing their lifespan and improving their quality of life.
How to Make Holiday Memories with Seniors
So much of the holiday season is about reminiscing, reflecting, and togetherness. For seniors, this can be a challenge due to memory issues, health concerns, or family members living far away. You can sweeten the season by intentionally spreading holiday cheer and making memories. Ideas include:
- Softly play holiday music, including songs that were popular in past decades.
- Create a Thanksgiving craft with a senior or help them select/make gifts for loved ones.
- Look through old photo albums and reminisce with seniors as they share stories.
- Share your favorite Thanksgiving memories and ask seniors about theirs.
Preparing Thanksgiving Dinner for Seniors
There are some things you should know about preparing meals for seniors. The first thing is that seniors do not metabolize food in the same way that they once did. And what’s more, their taste buds might not be as sensitive to flavors as in years past. Don’t be surprised or offended or upset then when your loved one doesn’t attack your casserole like he or she used to. In fact, you might want to think about preparing something special for your loved one, to cater to his or her changing dietary habits and needs.
- Make food that is easy to chew and swallow. Dentures and reduced saliva production might make tough and dry foods difficult.
- Use less salt. You don’t want to cause a dangerous spike in blood pressure or worsen water retention. Remember, you can always salt the food on your own plate later.
- Add more seasoning. To make up for the lower salt, aging taste buds and the dulling affect of some prescription medications, use savory, but not spicy, seasonings to provide more flavor.
- Use recipes rich with nutrition. Seniors need to eat food that is high in nutritional content and calories to make up for their often reduced appetites. Check AARPs recipe site for great Thanksgiving recipes for seniors.
How Seniors Can Help with Thanksgiving Dinner
- Picking the menu. Seniors have a lot of experience with Thanksgiving. Include your aging loved ones when planning the menu. Seniors may have special dietary restrictions or may have trouble eating certain foods. Involve your senior when building your menu and select foods that everyone will love.
- No-bake side dished. There are all sorts of side dishes that don’t involve any cooking at all. Set the ingredients out on the counter along with the recipe. Let them be in charge of mixing up the side so that it’s ready to serve at dinner time.
- Setting the table. Invite a senior to set the table. They may want to put their own spin on setting the table, complete with some fall-inspired decorations. They might remember a way that they used to fold cloth napkins or they may have a specific way to set the wine glasses and all of the silverware. Plus, they get to take credit for how great it looks when everyone takes a seat.
- Cutting dessert. Do you have a special pumpkin pie or a delicious apple crumble? Whatever dessert might be, ask the senior in your life if they want to be in charge of cutting dessert. A simple pie cutter should do the trick for getting the pie to the dessert plates. You may even want to elevate dessert by asking them to sprinkle some seasoning on top or adding a dollop of whipped cream on the side.
Making the holidays special for seniors can involve such simple things as spending time together and cooking a special meal – which makes Thanksgiving a great holiday to create memories with your senior loved one(s)!
If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation. Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.
Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care, Bed & Wheelchair Transfer Assistance, Companionship, Housekeeping & Meal Preparation, Personal Care, Recovery Care, and Transportation.