December 9, 2022
Reading Time 4 min.

Holiday Sadness: 5 Tips to Keep your Elderly Happy

Holiday sadness is a reality for many seniors.

While most of us are excited, some people, especially the elderly, can become sullen during this time. 

Now that the holidays are fast approaching, it’s a must for us, caregivers to be prepared.

Here are my five tips on how to keep your elderly happy when they experience holiday sadness.

What is holiday sadness in seniors?

Every family has certain traditions during the holiday season. 

Some enjoy gift-giving. Others have cookoffs and baking activities. 

In our family, we enjoy watching Christmas movies like Elf and The Sound of Music.

However, many people find themselves overwhelmed with what's going on during the holidays. 

Seniors may feel especially overwhelmed by thoughts of lost loved ones.

Some traditions may also be vanishing because of the changes in the times. 

For others, simply gathering with family or friends can be challenging. 

A huge part of what we do as caregivers involves helping seniors navigate these moments. 

That’s why it’s also necessary for us to anticipate how our loved ones will respond. 

Check out my previous post on why holiday loneliness is a thing with seniors. 

The problem is we also get affected by how seniors react during the holidays. 

Most family members who act as caregivers know how difficult this can be.

Often, our parents know our triggers. And as much as we’d like to avoid drama and confrontation, it gets to us. 

So how can we keep our seniors happy while also managing our responses?

Here are my best tips.

Spend quality time with your elders

holiday sadness - spend time with family

Seniors often have different definitions of what ‘quality time’ means. So it helps to understand what kind of love language they value. 

There are five love languages: acts of service, quality time, words of affirmation, physical touch, and receiving gifts. 

Sometimes a person can have a combination of two or three love languages. 

The point is, you’ll need to know what kind of love language a person has so it’s easier for them to understand and appreciate what you do. 

Want to make it more interesting? You can take a test to find out what love language works best for your elderly loved ones.

What matters most is finding what speaks to them, so they feel loved and appreciated.

Take a trip down memory lane. 

holiday sadness - take a trip down memory lane

This may sound counterintuitive to some because it can trigger negative emotions. 

However, strolling down memory lane can also be an awesome experience for your elderly loved ones. 

Taking the time to reminisce can help seniors process their emotions in a helpful way. 

This can be the perfect time to reconnect and reflect on how things made them feel - happy or otherwise. 

Remember that talking about emotions can also be a form of healing, no matter how distant the past seems. 

Let them feel safe to discuss things freely without being judged. 

The key is knowing how to ask the right questions and when to stop and listen.

Here are some tips on how to navigate through painful memories through reminiscence.

Have friends and family visit 

holiday sadness - have family and friends visit

Gathering people together can be tricky during the holidays. 

To make it easier for everyone, it’s best to create a flexible schedule that works for both parties. 

Coordinate with friends and family members for visits. Make sure to inform the facilities about schedules so your elders can accommodate them. 

If your loved ones are aging in place, ask them if they want visitors to stay the night. 

Host a slumber party with kids or poker night with their senior friends. 

What matters most is for everyone involved also feel appreciated for their time.

Plan fun activities with them 

plan fun activities for the family to prevent holiday sadness

Why not revive the spirit of the holidays by planning activities that your senior loved ones enjoy?

Ask your elders about traditions they had in the past. Let them share why they find joy in these traditions. And if possible, recreate them this Christmas season. 

Or better yet, create new ones with the kids and other family members. 

Play new games or try new activities. 

Doing this helps improve your elder’s brain function and encourages them to build stronger bonds with family. 

Running out of ideas? Here are some of the best games you can try with the whole family. 

Let them enjoy themselves at their pace. 

enjoy holidays at their own pace

Let's be kind and give our elders the time they deserve this season. 

After all, holidays can have a different impact on everyone. 

While some may feel energized by it, others could need their own space to relax & recharge. 

Let's make sure we create an atmosphere of understanding and acceptance so that everybody can enjoy the season in their own unique way.

Final thoughts 

It’s normal for seniors to experience holiday sadness. 

But there are things we can do to help them through it. 

The most important thing is to let them know that we care and are here for them.

We should also let them enjoy the festivities at their own pace. Even if that means doing fun activities together or just spending time talking. 

What do you do to keep your senior loved ones happy during the holidays? Share it with us below.

That's all for today.

Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!


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