11 Tips for a Senior-Friendly Holiday Event
The holiday season is a wonderful time to gather with loved ones and create new memories while honoring timeless traditions. For seniors, these occasions can be especially significant. Whether you’re celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s, or any other festive event, creating a senior-friendly environment ensures all generations feel welcomed.
Here are some tips for planning a holiday event that resonates with warmth and inclusivity for elder friends and family members.
1. Transportation Arrangements: Safe Travels
Ensure that transportation is not a barrier for those with mobility challenges. Arrange rides for seniors who may no longer drive so they can arrive and leave the event safely and conveniently. Ensure the entry to the home or other venue is accessible and well lit.
2. Inviting Atmosphere: Comfort Meets Celebration
The ambiance of your event can set the stage for a delightful gathering. Consider the following:
- Lighting: Ensure the space is well lit to accommodate visual impairments. Soft, warm lights can add to the coziness without being overpowering.
- Seating: Have plenty of comfortable seating options. Chairs with armrests and cushions can help seniors sit down and stand up more easily.
- Temperature: Keep the room at a comfortable, warm temperature, as seniors can be more sensitive to the cold.
- Accessibility: Make sure the space is accessible, with ramps available if needed and no tripping hazards.
3. Inclusive Planning: Everyone Has a Role
Involve older adults in the planning process. They can share ideas that reflect their holiday traditions, which can be integrated into the event. This can help keep them from feeling left out or sidelined.
4. Memory Lane Decor: A Nostalgic Touch
Incorporate decorations that might spark memories or conversations. This can include vintage ornaments or other items that older adults may recognize from past celebrations.
5. Gentle Tunes: A Festive Soundtrack
Music is a powerful way to set the mood. Play music at a comfortable volume and include holiday classics, if appropriate, or favorite tunes from the eras your senior guests might cherish. At the same time, be aware of any hearing challenges that background music may exacerbate and plan accordingly.
6. Traditional Fare With a Twist: Thoughtful Menus
When planning the menu, consider dietary restrictions and preferences common among older adults:
- Soft foods: Include soft food options for those with dental or swallowing issues.
- Dietary restrictions: Offer low-sodium, sugar-free or low-fat options to accommodate health needs.
- Familiar favorites: Serve traditional dishes that seniors might have grown up enjoying.
7. Engaging Activities: Fun for All Ages
Plan activities that can be enjoyed by all generations, such as:
- Crafting: Simple crafts, such as making holiday cards or decorating cookies, can be fun and easy for seniors.
- Storytelling: Invite seniors to share stories of past holidays, which can be a gift of history for younger attendees.
- Games: Opt for games that encourage cross-generational participation, like charades or holiday-themed bingo.
8. Gift Exchange: Simplicity and Sentimentality
If gifts are part of your celebration, encourage practical and sentimental gifts over expensive or elaborate ones. Homemade gifts or items that provide comfort, like warm socks or a good book, are thoughtful choices.
9. Quiet Zones: A Space for Rest
Provide a quiet room or area where older adults can take a break if the festivities become overwhelming. This space should have comfortable seating and be away from the main hub of activity.
10. Photo Opportunities: Cherish the Moment
Set up a photo area where families can take pictures. These photos will be treasured keepsakes, capturing the joy of the holidays.
11. Follow-Up: The Celebration Continues
After the event, follow up with a card, phone call or visit to discuss the fun memories. This helps extend the warmth of the occasion and keeps seniors feeling connected.
By infusing your holiday event with thoughtfulness, accessibility and a dash of nostalgia, you can create an inclusive celebration that honors the spirit of the season and makes it special for senior loved ones.
How Right at Home Can Help
Professional in-home care can provide respite for families caring for elderly loved ones. Our trained/bonded caregivers can help with hygiene, light housekeeping, meal preparation, errands, medication reminders, or transportation, among other services. Use our office locator to find your local Right at Home and ask to speak to a care expert.