Old and New Traditions: Keeping Thanksgiving Special in Senior Living

Although every day should be a day of thanks, Thanksgiving gives us a chance to gather with loved ones and appreciate life together as one. For residents of assisted living or other senior living communities and their families, keeping up with traditions may seem challenging – but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some ways to keep the holiday special for your loved one in a senior living community no matter how near or far they may be.

Start by asking your loved one how they’re feeling. The holidays may bring around “blues” for many seniors – especially those new to living at an assisted living or other senior living community. Sometimes all they need is someone who will listen. Give them a chance to talk openly about their feelings and decide how they’d like to celebrate the holiday. You don’t have to pretend that things haven’t changed and push to keep old traditions that simply aren’t possible anymore. Having an honest conversation about the changes being made can ease the stress for both parties.

Create new traditions. It’s great if you’re able to stick to old traditions, such as special recipes or holiday activities – but, if your family member can’t come home for thanksgiving dinner like they used to, it’s time to celebrate in a new way! If you are fortunate enough to live closed to your loved one, bring the holiday to them. Decorate their room with themed décor, work together to craft a door sign, or even arrange to have dinner at their home instead. Many assisted livings offer holiday programs or private dining arrangements for families who’d like to dine with their loved ones. It’s a good idea to stay familiar with their community’s activities calendar so that special events aren’t missed.

Send a care package. It may not be so easy to visit your family member if you live far away. Consider sending them a care package with fall treats, scented candles, a warm blanket, holiday decorations, or even artwork from the grandkids! Don’t forget to keep their preferences in mind when you put the package together. You probably know what they do or don’t like, so try to make it personal. A familiar item is likely to bring comfort. It may also be nice to reach out to the staff at their community and see if they can help arrange a video call so that you can talk “face-to-face.”

Whatever it is that you decide to do, be sure to include your loved one in the decisions being made (within reason). Cognitive and physical limitations, along with dietary restrictions, don’t adjust just for the holidays – so it’s a good idea to keep these things in mind when planning activities. All in all, try to put yourself in their shoes, and don’t feel pressured to celebrate in a specific way. The holiday is about spending time together and being thankful for what we have – and that’s just enough!

Stein Assisted Living is committed to providing personalized assisted living support in a pleasant, homelike environment to Jewish seniors and other older adults in central New Jersey. We take pride in recognizing and meeting the personal, medical and spiritual needs of our senior residents… and celebrating the traditional Jewish values that are central to our mission of caring for the elderly.

For more info or to schedule a tour, call 732-568-1155 or email info@wilfcampus.org