Get Elders Ready for Holidays


How to keep elders, that are not able to get around…happy and calm during holidays. by francy Dickinson

My sister Merrilee in her Kitchen at Thanksgiving

My sister Merrilee in her Kitchen at Thanksgiving

Dear Francy; My dad and his brother are both in their early 80’s and not able to be out and about. They help each other, but live alone…I am worried about this coming holiday. They are really going downhill. I don’t think they will be able to join us for dinner. Ideas on what to do to bring them cheer?

Thanks for the note…I totally understand. My Georgie is having too many problems to leave the house and join our family for our usual holiday dinner. So, I have developed ideas to help family members to spread the cheer in little ways.


  1. First, get a calendar on the wall so the senior can see the different holidays. Veterans Day…Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas or your own faith/or family holidays – all need to be put down so they can see what is coming.
  2. Call the senior and ask them what their favorite dish for Thanksgiving is…so you can make it for them. They may not be at the table…but they can feel a part of the day.
  3. Make a simple phone call from the family just before dinner…kids, grandkids, great grandkids…get them all on the phone…Telling the senior who they are and wishing them love.
  4. Prep a place for the seniors in your life…after dinner appoint a younger family member that drives to deliver the plate with pie! Tell them to arrive…get the food on a tray…stay 15 minutes and then return. Let the senior know they are coming…and it will be a fun break for the teens to get out of the house and do a good dead for Gramps or Grandma – Uncle or Auntie 😉
  5. Take a few pictures so when you go and visit the senior in the next few days after thanksgiving…they can see the family and hear about the dinner.
  6. Bake an extra pie. I always like to take a plate of dinner…but then leave a small pie for the senior to enjoy in the next few days. A good piece of pumpkin pie is like a lunch for most seniors…so why not give them a yummy treat.
  7. I always have a list of good ‘seniors in care’ gifts. So keep an eye open and I will be posting that before Christmas.
  8. If your senior is in a care facility…still go over with a piece of pie…or a left over of the senior’s…favorite dish from the dinner. All facilities try hard to entertain their guests at holiday…but certain family traditions can make their holiday. Seniors tend to remember the past, better than the present…so candy, cookies or holiday breads that your family always eats…are a real treat. Maybe search out a picture of a Thanksgiving dinner photo from long ago…what fun to remember!
  9. Out of town? You can do a little online food shopping. You can pay for fully cooked turkey dinner via local grocery chains like Safeway…but the in home caregiver would have to go and pick it up at the store…ready to heat. There are also so many goodies…like Sherries berries…my favorite…chocolate dipped strawberries that a dear friend of ours often sends to us. We are always so happy to get them and share them with those that stop by to visit 😉
  10. Taking the little grandkids over to visit…and have them practice a holiday song…to sing when they get there….or have them do child craft and drawings…to decorate Grandpa’s living area…so fun.
  11. Holidays are a time of year, not just a day. So, if you have Thanksgiving at your place…great…then the next day — take over the left overs and your immediate family. Eat the left overs at Grandma’s house so she gets the feeling of the family.
  12. Arriving on a day that is cold and rainy…with Thanksgiving decorations in your hand to put on the senior’s door…and in their living room area…that makes the whole month a special thought of love.
  13. Renting an old movie and going over to Auntie’s and sitting with them with popcorn and a movie that you have watched many times before…gives the feeling of family and history of love.
  14. Sending cards…is great…but include pictures of kids, pumpkins, dogs, what your car looks like, what your kitchen looks like in the middle of cookie baking…let the senior see into your life…so they can become a part of your holiday cheer.
  15. Take over a pumpkin pie early…and just sit for a half hour and talk with the senior…click on your record button on the phone and talk about old times. You will have recorded memories and the sound of the senior’s voice for all time. You can send the voice file and save it on your computer forever 😉
  16. If the senior is into using a laptop for games…pay for and get them started…they can keep on working on their family history and stories…and then when they are gone…you have the family knowledge forever.
  17. A family holiday gift of a newer TV…is really a wonderful way to give your love. TV becomes a senior’s only touch to the outside world. To give them a newer TV that is easy to use and smaller than one that you would buy for your living room…is just right. It would be a family gift of $20-$50 dollars each and it would get 24 hr enjoyment…bring it over early so the senior can enjoy the many holiday shows on a clear – hi def…TV..
  18. Calling the senior during the month and telling them what you are doing. You can use it as a tool to keep your calendar in tact and they can enjoy just hearing your whirlwind life style and understand why you are not visiting them everyday 😉
  19. Don’t forget to take their ‘anipal’ a treat or new toy…or bring your dog over to visit. As with children, seniors often find holding a dog or cat will calm them and give them a feeling of place. Be sure to bath the dog before you visit and if you bring a cat…use a baby wipe to wipe them down to limit the dander.

I want to bless you for caring about your seniors. As George advances in his Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s this holiday is going to be quieter than ever. It makes it hard on me to give up my time with my own family. But having a small celebration with Georgie will be special too. I don’t know how many holidays we have left together…at least ones that he will understand. So, in my mind…I am making it as special as I can. francy