HONORING TRADITION: EMBRACING THE SPIRIT AT HOLIDAY TIME

Dec 12, 2023 | Uncategorized

The holiday season can be full of joy, but it happens to be at a time of year that gets colder and darker by the day.

Even the brightest of spirits can be dampened by so much darkness. Between the weather and the stress, for seniors, the holiday season can go from joyful to joyless.

With some planning, though, older adults can plan an enjoyable, joy-filled holiday season that’s filled with holiday traditions. Keep reading to learn three tips that will help seniors plan a holiday that embraces the spirit of the season!

 

Tip #1: Proactively Cope With Dark Days

No matter what part of the US you’re from, what traditions you and your family have, or which holidays you celebrate—the last few months of the year hold a lot of similarities for all of us. 

As soon as daylight savings time hits, the day gets dark by six o’clock. For many older Americans, the lack of sunlight can put a damper on our mental and even physical health.

 

In fact, research shows how lack of sunlight affects our aging bodies and minds:

 

Mental Health

Physical Health

Lower Serotonin Production

Vitamin D Deficiency

Increased Anxiety

Higher Blood Pressure

Increased Fatigue

Weaker Bones

 

Our bodies need sunlight to complete essential functions, and without light, it’s hard for our emotions and physical health to maintain balance.

As an older adult, supplementing with Vitamin D, exercising, and feeling the sunshine on your cheeks can all be helpful. Of course, consult your physician to discuss your unique needs!

Tip #2: Keep It Joyful

The holidays themselves can bring about stress and anxiety—There are a lot of questions: Who is hosting this year? How will I be getting to the celebration? Now that my health needs have changed, will I even be able to go? How can I celebrate without my loved one who has passed?

As an older adult, it is perfectly normal to feel sad during the holidays. After all, the holidays take place during a dark time of year when your body and mind are already struggling to maintain balance.  Plus, there are a lot of changes from holidays past. The holidays likely look and feel different than the holidays of yesteryear.

It’s okay. Be patient with yourself as you navigate difficult emotions.

At the same time, purposefully plan ways to make the season joyful!

Look ahead…and prepare for some extra fun:

  • Plan your time with friends and family in advance.
  • Consider new activities that might be enriching and fun…as well as old traditions!
  • Give back to your community (nothing embodies the holiday spirit like generosity!)
  • Establish boundaries and make choices that are best for you, keeping in mind they might “look” different than in the past.


Tip #3: Include Senior Family Members

The holiday season is a time when everyone gathers together. Make an effort to reconnect with other older family members that you don’t see often.

Plan activities that they will be able to participate in and enjoy. 

As you visit with them, be sure to watch for signs that they may need extra support. Do you notice signs such as declining hygiene, forgetfulness, withdrawal, worsening physical or mental health, or inability to complete tasks like usual?

As you enjoy the time together, really observe so you can help them get the support they need…during the holidays and beyond.


Reclaim the Holidays

As older adults, we often feel overwhelmed during the holidays. However, it’s important to remember that as we age, the holiday season is well within our control.

Be proactive! Prepare your body for the coming months. Plan activities that will bring a smile to your face– and to those of loved ones.

Make the extra effort to be close, and ensure no one misses out!

When you do those three things, you are sure to have a holiday that honors tradition and embraces the spirit of the season!

From all of us at Chatham Place at Mary Wade, have a wonderful holiday season!

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Chatham Place at Mary Wade is dedicated to providing a warm, welcoming holiday experience for all of our residents. Through a combination of our attentive and expert staff, fun programming, and family events, our residents feel the true spirit of the season. We work diligently to make the season special for our residents. Learn more about Chatham Place’s staff and programming by clicking here.