How to Reconnect With An Aging Parent During The Holidays

Even in the best of circumstances, the holiday season often seems to lie in wait for us, promising its whirlwind finish to the year in a blinding rush of events, commitments and endless lists of to-dos.

Small wonder that the season of joy, so long-awaited, tends to leave us bobbing and spent in its wake as though in need of a life preserver as our second pandemic year comes to an end.

Many of us are hoping to reconnect and rekindle the feelings of pre-pandemic holiday gatherings. What, then, are some strategies we can adopt to reconnect to the older adults in our lives and discover afresh the message and meaning of the season?

Rekindle Old Memories.

The holidays are rooted in tradition and tradition is steeped in stories passed down through generations.

As you gather this year, rekindle yours and your loved one’s fondest childhood memories. Older adults naturally want to preserve memories and pass down traditions to their children and grandchildren.

If you don’t know how to start, simply delve into Mom and Dad’s old photo albums and curate a digital album that will stand the test of time. There are dozens of apps today that allow you to capture and archive not only family photos, but family stories. You’ll be surprised at the memories that reunite you. After all, isn’t that the point?

Have an Al Fresco Day.

One thing about the holidays. Most of our memories, like most of our holiday activities, seem to have been confined to the indoors. Which would be okay, except that’s also where many of us have spent most of our time throughout the pandemic year.

You don’t have to go shopping. There’s no supply chain issue when it comes to a walk in a park. Or a drive to the beach. Pack a picnic. Giving your parent the gift of a day outdoors can put both of you in touch with the natural world. And, help you feel the peace that is the object of the season.

There are several Florida State Parks to choose from near Sonata Senior Living’s Central Florida independent living and assisted living communities.

Give Some Payback.

When it comes to our loved ones, the best gift they’ve ever given us is the gift of their time. So do something a little splurge-y to pay them back. After all, we can’t take it with us!

South Florida is known as the retirement destination of the world for a good reason. Sonata Senior Living’s South Florida communities are located near beachfront parks, museums, botanical gardens, galleries, theatres and historic attractions.

Take your loved one on a tour of one the many cultural attractions of South Florida. Something you’ve always mentioned doing together, but just never seemed to have the time for. One of the benefits of doing this is, it creates new memories even while it brings back some old ones. You’ll feel you’ve created a respite from all the hustle of the holiday season, all the while you’re giving someone what they really want, which is to spend more time with you!

Reboot Family Traditions.

To rekindle old memories, think of something you used to bake for the holidays that you haven’t tasted in a long time. Then, make a day of it. It could be making a favorite kind of holiday dessert [link to Sonata’s dessert contest post]. Or grandma’s lasagna. You don’t have to get it exactly right, simply the act of trying will put you in touch with the actual emotions behind the memories.

The most enduring memories are the ones that involve all the senses. So, devote a day to cooking the recipes you recall from your youth. You’ll delight your loved ones by curating your holiday menu using traditional family recipes passed down from a parent or grandparent. You’ll also be surprised at the memories that are triggered by the powerful aroma of nostalgia associated with your family’s traditional cooking.

Be a Gamer.

Everybody has their own favorite scenes remembered from holiday movies, like the “cat” scene in Christmas Vacation. What do you think your life would look like if you could see it on the silver screen?

Why not make a game of it? Make your own memory game using best-remembered scenes from your family’s holiday get-togethers. Tell the first half of the scene and see if your loved one can provide the “punchline” or climactic scene. Award bonus points if the person can remember the year in which the event happened. It’s an entertaining way to reconnect and keep old memories alive.

If creating your own game proves too much work, check out this list of the best board games for seniors and spend the afternoon engaged in a little family-friendly competition.

Give Yourself a Break.

If the older adults in your family are showing the telltale signs of cognitive decline, it may be more challenging to involve them in family activities and events. Juggling an endless to-do list of shopping, cooking and cleaning, the stress of the holidays combined with the stress of providing care to an aging parent can push many of us to the brink of exhaustion.

Remember, when it comes to caregiving, the most important person you can care for is yourself.

While the holiday season is a vacation for some, it is a full-time job for others. If you have an elderly parent who may need extra care and attention, or you care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, a little break can be the life preserver you need to minimize your stress level.

Respite care at Sonata Senior Living can give you the physical and emotional break you need to prevent exhaustion and burnout. Even for a day or two, getting help for yourself will benefit your relationships and help you reconnect with a renewed sense of energy.

Call Sonata Senior Living to learn more about respite care during the holidays or
 schedule a visit to a community near you.


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