How to Make the Holidays Comfortable for Seniors at Home

Grandfather playing with his grandkids

As wonderful as the holiday season is, it can also be quite a lot of work – especially if mom and dad are in their senior years! For older adults, it can be a difficult time when they miss someone who is no longer with them, or when they feel isolated from all the holiday activities that they used to be able to take part in. Perhaps the best gift for your parent this year is to help reduce their stress this holiday season. If you’re looking for tips on how to do this, our home health aides in NJ compiled a list on how to ease stress and loneliness for senior parents over the holidays.

#1 – Start new traditions at home

In the past, maybe mom always hosted Christmas, Hanukkah, or New Year’s Eve parties, but now it is too much work for her to do alone. This could be an opportunity to start a new family tradition by hosting the holiday in your own home. Taking a lot of work off your mom’s plate, while still including her in all the preparations will reduce her stress and leave more room for the joy that comes with these family events. Try to have your mom or dad participate in the parts they love the most – decorating the Christmas cookies, setting the table, or simply keeping you company while cooking.

#2 – Visit memory lane 

Older people do tend to struggle with memories, but everyone loves reliving them. You can “visit” the past together by going through photo albums, old family videos, or even visiting the neighborhood where you grew up with your parents to enjoy the Christmas lights or see how things have changed. Try to make a fun event out of it by sharing stories, visiting a friend in the area with festive treats, popping into your favorite coffee shop, and seeing all your old stomping grounds!

#3 – Plan quiet celebrations

Big family celebrations are a lot of fun, but they can sometimes become overstimulating and confusing for older loved ones. If this sounds like your situation, you can instead plan a few seasonal events that are quieter and smaller, but still plenty of fun for all ages. You could do a Christmas Eve movie night, a drive around the neighborhood to see the festive lights, a Christmas morning brunch, or even a house decorating party with a small group of people. Seniors can quickly become tired out, so plan for your event to last only a few hours. It helps to also give them plenty of time to rest up beforehand or to get home early for a good night’s sleep.

#4 – Add in some favorites

Think about what mom or dad loves most about this season and try to include it in your plans. Maybe your dad always loved sweets, so you can make sugar cookies and decorate gingerbread houses together. Or maybe your mom loves the classics, so you can plan to see The Nutcracker, watch a local musical, participate in a tree lighting ceremony, or go caroling through the neighborhood. You don’t need to do everything that they enjoy, but selecting a few thoughtful and memorable experiences to share will ensure the holidays still feel special for them!

#5 – Give them a break

If you can, talk to your loved ones ahead of time about what they would like to do over the festive season, so you can plan events that make sense to them. Planning ahead will both include your loved one in the season’s events and prevent them from feeling too tired to properly participate. For example, your parents may love a trip to go see the holiday light displays, but would feel too tired to then spend the evening at a big family dinner afterward. By discussing plans ahead of time, you can split the two events up so no one feels like they’re missing out and everyone stays in the holiday spirit!

#6 – Create balance

We can all do with a little balance in our lives, and seniors are no exception – even in a season that’s all about overindulgence! Keep an eye on alcohol intake and help make sure your loved one isn’t eating too much rich food that can upset their stomach. Make sure they are still on schedule with medication, properly hydrating, eating fresh fruits and vegetables, sleeping well, and staying nice and warm in the cold weather. Have them take a walk once a day to help ease digestion, and be sure to keep an eye on their fatty food and sweet treat consumption if they suffer from diabetes, gout, high blood pressure, or digestive difficulties.

At-home care for seniors through the holidays and beyond

The United Methodist Communities HomeWorks program is focused on giving seniors a professional, but welcoming hand in maintaining independence at home. Our in-home caregivers in NJ are trained and experienced in medication management, nursing skills, meal preparation, and much more, helping every senior live a full and abundant life. We also specialize in companionship and pastoral care, making the festive season special for every senior. 

For more information on how our home health aide services New Jersey can assist you over the holiday season, contact us today or visit our website at: https://umcommunities.org/homeworks/senior-care-new-jersey/ 

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