How to Visit Seniors on Holidays

by Francy Dickinson                   www.seniorswithspirit.com

Here come the Holidays…Thanksgiving and all the winter fests that each of us follow. You are exhausted and have loads of family to visit. Divorced parents have two different families to add to their list of visits and often 2-4 sets of grand parents. But holidays are for all family not just the ones that are easy to visit. The older grandparent, the ones without money, or without a fancy home, ones that no longer are legally connected to you…still have feelings and love in their heart for grand children. To visit can be very hard to do both with little time and emotions. Here are some tips to bring families together in a way that they can enjoy it, not dread it:

Rules of visiting, fast and fun:

  1. Visits do not have to be long or include a dinner. They can be short and sweet, it”s your demeanor and up energy that makes it fun.
  2. Calling ahead and saying: “We are so busy this season that I was hoping I could stop by and pick you up and join us for a nice family movie and then some ice cream after.” You will have an experience with the family, but the time will be in a movie not talking or arguing. After, the treat is ice cream not a fancy dinner or the time to have someone get upset. Just friendly and fun. This works so well, you have to give it a try…Kids love it, have time for Great -Grandma and many time older grand parents haven’t been to a movie in ages.
  3. A drop by with gifts of love. Have the kids help you make easy sweet bread or cookies and put them in zip locks decorated with hand-made Holiday Cards. Dress up the kids and then give the grand parents a call, tell them you are on a tight schedule but you want to stop by and say a holiday HI and give them a hug. When they say sure…do just that…have kids go over and take pics of grandparents and kids together, give them the cookies and have the kids do a song if they are old enough. Then after 20 minutes it is time to leave and move on to an older auntie or neighbor. Short and sweet.
  4. Dinner at Grandma’s. If you have dinner at Grandma’s planned and there is family tension come prepared. Bring toys for the kids and a family photo album for you. Come with a small hostess gift to give and something easy to add to the dinner. Even if it’s candy in a candy jar, a pie from a high end bakery, or home-made something…bring and join even if you have not been asked to do so. Gifts for older Grandparents are really photos and related items. They want to see their grandchildren, so make sure the kids are dressed up and have had rest so they do not over act up at the dinner. Eat dinner, stay for dessert and then leave. That is how it is done and a little email or card in the mail to say thank you can be sent or pre-done and left on a table for them to find after you have left.
  5. Keeping your self and kids busy is the key to a dysfunctional family. Bring a movie for the kids to view or a DVD to watch a movie. Bring toys or a game for them to play. Keep yourself busy with doing the dishes for the family after dinner, the kitchen is often a good escape from angry talk around the table. Bring a small craft project like knitting or crochet and just sit quietly when all swirls around you. Or take a deep breath of fresh air with your kids with a walk around the block if  the house is getting to filled with drinking or arguments. Make your time at the dinner short and kind.
  6. Dressing up for holiday parties may seem silly to you. But showing the hostess that you respect the time that it took to ready their home and buy food and gifts is important. Make sure you’re the one with the manners.
  7. Bringing gifts can be very small…a nice candle even from the dollar store is always enjoyed and any craft project that the kids do is enjoyed by grand parents.
  8. Visiting Older family before the holiday during the week so you can leave the actual holiday for your own family and celebrations.
  9. Talk to your children before you visit older people. Tell them that you expect them to be polite and actually talk to their grand parents or older family. Show them their toys and be kind and polite. After the visit if they are good, you will take them for a treat. It is not the time for children to have an emotional fit when they are visiting a senior on a rare visit. Feed them before they go, dress them well, get them involved in the handmade gift or card and let the visit be fun and short.
  10. It all revolves around you. Why are you the one to visit in the busy part of the year? Why do you have to buy extra gifts for people you hardly know and never talk to? Because older people deserve to see and enjoy their family. It is not their fault that they can not drive over and say Hello often. These visits are often the only visits they have during the year, they are special to the senior. Please respect that and make it only 20 minutes of your life that can be with a smile and enjoyed by all.

Hope these ideas help. I know the pressure of holidays can build and build and visiting older family is just one more thing on your plate. But take a moment to remember it may be the highlight of the elder’s holiday, it may make them feel like they have value and worth in your family. They may feel their grandchildren are all they have in their life and your visit could have more value than you could imagine.

Please go and visit my website for other ideas to help care for seniors www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

Thank you and blessings on your holidays, francy

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