PRESS ENTERPRISE 10/15/2017 – Invest time in seniors this season



It is the middle of October, and the holiday season is almost here.  Normally the holiday season is a time when families get together for multi-generational activities loaded with traditional family events.

Don’t forget to include seniors in your holiday activities. Encourage seniors to join in whenever possible, but remember to be careful so that they don’t overdo it.  Older adults have less energy and stamina, so be on the lookout for signs of fatigue and suggest frequent breaks or even naps.

Besides your normal traditional activities, consider adding new, simple activities that could be spread over the whole season and not crammed into one or two days.  The activities can be adjusted to the physical and mental abilities of the seniors and can be shared with different members of the family during the season.

Make favorite recipes.  Before Thanksgiving find out what side dish was special for the seniors when they were growing up with their family.  Was it something that was handed down from generation to generation such as a recipe?

Finding out the history of the dish helps the family understand why it is meaningful and sharing the stories helps the younger family connect with the seniors also.

Decorate the table.  Have the seniors help the young children design and put together the decorations for the Thanksgiving dinner table. Activities such as drawing and coloring, simple turkeys to be used as name cards to designate where people are going to sit, or filling conical plastic bags with candy corn that looks similar to corn on the cob can help the seniors connect with the young family members.

Celebrate with music.  As the days move toward the holidays, different family members might work with the seniors to pick out multi-generational music for the holiday parties.  Imagine, you could go from Bing Crosby to Rod Stewart to Disney music!  Find time to enjoy special holiday music, by listening and singing.

Share history and make new memories.  Get your technology kids to put together a slide show or video of the seniors telling stories about their youth, past holidays, or family vacations.  Have a family member  interview them on a particular subject or do a documentary on the lives of the seniors. The final product could be a holiday gift to the family from the seniors. Consider doing a series of these interviews for future giving, but also to preserve the memories now before it’s too late.

Don’t forget seniors with dementia. If your seniors have dementia, you can still involve them in many of the activities above, as long as you adjust the time and control the environment.  You want them to feel like successful participants, so it doesn’t matter if they make mistakes with the words to a song or the rules to a game.

Help them enjoy what they are doing and use activities that use their five senses.  Baking cookies and playing with the dough or rolling it out can activate their muscle memory and can affect their sense of touch, smell, and taste.  Listening to music can stimulate them to sing or dance, or remember a special song from earlier times.

Activities don’t have to be fast paced and exciting to be special and meaningful to the seniors. Many of the activities suggested above are low key and can be done at a comfortable pace.  The holidays are about spending time with family, feeling included and enjoying the company of others.

Marcia L. Campbell has worked as a CPA for 25 years specializing in seniors, trusts, estates, court accountings and probate litigation support. Reach her at

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