I still have friends who insist that Thanksgiving is not a real Thanksgiving if they can’t go to their parents for the holidays. Ailing or not, they cannot miss it.

The time will come when our parents or grandparents can no longer effectively prepare a Thanksgiving holiday dinner, let alone manage preparations for family guests coming in from out of town. Having so many people around could be very confusing to those who have dementia.

Be observant.

The moment will come when we will want to offer our support and assistance in helping host a holiday gathering. Some older loved ones might want to put the brakes on our desire to help. They have always been in charge, and do not want to give up their independence.

If they still insist on being in charge of a holiday gathering, we need to back up graciously. We can offer our help at a later time, when they have calmed down. Take baby steps. Start out small.  Suggest one project to help with, even if it’s just to pick up family members at the airport, run an errand, or assist in cleaning up after dinner.

How Can We Help During The Holiday Season?

Pay attention to family dynamics during gatherings. Holidays bring out the fondest of memories, and unfortunately, sometimes the saddest moments.   

Discuss and encourage other family members to offer assistance, should the opportunity arise.

If possible, hearten younger adults or teenagers in helping entertain younger siblings. Have the artistic members of the family draw portraits of their favorite subject, or take pictures of family members at the dinner table, or chatting during the holiday gathering. Share the moment.

Family members can help out in the kitchen, take out the trash, or even assist in cleaning up after the holiday luncheons or dinners.

Make a note of aging loved ones’ daytime and evening schedules, such as when they wake up or when they go to bed. You would not want to watch a football game while grandfather is trying to sleep. You can always record and watch it later.

Remember that some seniors are a fall risk. Keep an eye on their ambulation during the holidays, making sure that throw rugs and area rugs are not a hazard. Clean up water spills.

If children are also holiday guests, encourage them to pick up their toys after playtime is over. Make sure walkways are free and clear.

Encourage elderly loved ones to share their favorite holiday menus, recipes, and family stories. Be patient if they repeat the same story over and over again.

The time may come when our loved ones can no longer carry out their holiday festivities, but may still insist on having the family over for the holidays. It is their privilege. Enjoy the moment. Remember, it may be different the next time around.

Ana P Delane

Happy Thanksgiving from Senior Helpers or Orlando

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