Thanksgiving, often the one time each year when the entire family comes together, can present some challenges in ensuring that everyone has a great time. To accomplish this, thoughtful planning is crucial, especially when it comes to accommodating the needs and preferences of the senior members of your family.
Thanksgiving Preparations with Seniors
The first and most important aspect to consider is the comfort and enjoyment of your senior loved ones during the Thanksgiving festivities.
It’s essential to be aware of any dietary restrictions or preferences your senior family members may have. This can include issues related to digestion, allergies, health concerns, or personal likes and dislikes. Ensure there’s a diverse selection of food options available, considering the possibility that some guests may follow vegetarian or dairy-free diets, and provide suitable alternatives.
Before the big day, make arrangements for your senior family members to reach the gathering. Confirm who will be picking them up and when. This may involve booking a cab, arranging for a family member to provide transportation, or personally going to pick them up. If they plan to use public transit, make sure someone knows their route, expected arrival time, and is available to meet them.
Staying in contact with them before and during their journey, even if it’s a family member driving them, is a good practice. Check to make sure they are ready, in the car, have everything they need, and are on schedule.
If your senior loved one faces mobility challenges, it’s essential to make necessary accommodations in your home. This may involve setting up a temporary ramp or ensuring that their wheelchair can easily access your home. In case they use a wheelchair or walker, remove obstacles like furniture and loose carpets that could pose tripping hazards. Make sure they can comfortably join the table and don’t leave them isolated. Also, ensure they have convenient access to the bathroom.
Sight and Hearing
Seniors with vision or hearing impairments may feel excluded from conversations and events. Encourage them to wear their hearing aids and ensure they have their glasses. If they use hearing aids, be mindful that noisy conversations or children playing might be overwhelming. You may need to help them follow the conversation effectively.
If they have visual impairments, make sure they can identify dishes on the table. Have someone nearby who can discreetly assist if needed.
To ensure your senior family members feel valued and engaged, invite them to participate in activities and help out with preparations. One thoughtful gesture is to ask them to prepare one of their signature dishes or assist with cooking. This makes them feel needed and appreciated.
For planned activities like a backyard football game, ensure they have a prime seat if they want to watch or, if they’re up to it, let them join in. Take some quiet moments to sit and chat with them to check on how they are doing.
If your senior loved ones have caregivers or require assistance, plan for their needs. Their caregivers may be with their own families for the holiday, so it’s up to you and your family to ensure they receive the necessary support. As the host and family, it’s your responsibility to guarantee their enjoyment and full participation. Accommodate their preferences, whether it’s a nap or leaving the gathering early.
Consider a Medical Alert System
If you have concerns about the well-being of your senior family members during the holidays, consider a medical alert system. This can provide peace of mind for everyone, ensuring they have fast access to assistance if needed.
By taking these steps, you can create a warm and inclusive Thanksgiving celebration that brings joy and cherished memories to your entire family, including the senior members.