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Holiday Joy for Seniors

Jane remembered when her children were young – their joy in decorating the Christmas tree, gifts, brightly lit homes, and her favorite pecan pie.  It reminded her of how wonderful it was to watch her children sit on Santa’s lap, and the look on her son’s face when he received his red Huffy bike from her in-laws.

Now, she lives in an assisted living and her family stops by with food and gifts – but it is not what it was in the 1950’s.  She wonders why they do not take her to her daughter’s house where the festivities are held.



My guess is that the family does not know how to transfer Mary into the big SUV.  Some families believe it would be too stressful for “GranGran” to spend the day with the great grandchildren running around.  My thought is, “Oh Bull.”  Ask GranGran what she would like to do!

You could hire handicapped transport and the grown male grandchildren could carry her up the front stairs.  Her daughter or daughter-in-law could assist to the restroom; check on her every two hours for toileting needs.  If this is an uncomfortable duty, hire an aide for the day.  Let her sit at the head of the table and if she falls asleep, who cares.  Carry on with the family traditions.  The most important thing is the pecan pie.

Her eyes will sparkle when she is handed a gift and a few tears may be shed.  As I say all the time, the greatest honor is to care for your senior loved one.

Another option is to reserve the private dining room at the assisted living if they have one.  The room is in high demand around the Holidays, so reserve it early.  Bring on the turkey.

Maybe your loved one is physically or mentally able to attend any festivities.  Here is a list of gifts to consider:

  • Scented lotion – Bath & Body Works
  • A soft puffy lap robe— Mid-century woolly fuzzy lap blanket in hunter green, red, black, and cream plaid, with fringed ends – ETSY
  • A Gift certificate to the beauty shop (you may pay for it any way you’d like, Grandmommy will feel special)
  • A bird feeder to put outside his or her window (you will have to buy the seed and fill it all the time) –
  • Plant a sunflower outside his or her window (my father loved his).
  • Buy some retro candy from their young days like candy cigarettes–
  • A Bed jacket which is a robe that covers-up to her lap allowing less bulk when sitting up in bed –

If you do not have Grandparents in your family, stop in any assisted living home to talk to the Executive Director.  Ask if you could “Adopt a Grandparent” someone who is a social and fun resident that would like to be part of your family.  He or she could enjoy your family many times before going to your house for the Holiday joy.

Make a new traditional gift of compiling a family recipe book or photo album.  The cookbook would include only grandma’s famous food with each family members’ memories about the dish.  It adds a fun and different way to celebrate the wonderful mother and grandmother she is.

Every Christmas Eve my mother would make donuts in the deep fat fryer while the family would decorate the tree.  Those delicious pieces of gluten were so wonderful when they were hot and sugary. 

The funny part is, she served them while we opened our gifts on Christmas Day and they were as hard as hockey pucks.  The rest of the family enjoyed them, but “Pigtails” as I was called, could not eat even one.

The other idea is a photo album.  Rummage through all of the family photos, pick out the funny ones or some dear to you hearts.  Then attach your funny memory of that time in your life.  Everyone may view the experience of when the picture taken differently.  There maybe five to ten stories for one picture.

Every Christmas Eve after the three Owen family munchkins went to bed, my parents would hang a sheet across the living room door.  It would be attached with three tacks with a string fastened to each one.  On Christmas morning, the herd came running down the stairs, but we could not see the tree or presents behind the sheet.  My mother would yell, “One… Two… Three… pull your string!”  We would run grabbing anything unwrapped from Santa.

The reason we had to be behind the sheet was to give my father time to get 8mm camera started.  My father, a mechanical engineer, contrived that memorable tradition.

The cookbook, or a family photo album, once designed could be duplicated for each person.  The gift does not have to more than 10-15 pages.  The tradition could be repeated each year.

Make every seniors’ holiday special with a kiss, hug, or a ride in the countryside.  Let’s hope it will snow for Santa.

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~Melanie Morris,

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