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Make the holidays shine and sparkle for a senior

Special to the Nevada Appeal

The holidays are a wonderful time of year, where families and friends gather to share the old times and the new. Yet for seniors, the joy of the gatherings and the season in general can be a mixed blessing as eager anticipation can give way to additional stress. So this year, the staff at Carson Valley Senior Living has come up with some helpful holiday tips to make the season a joyous one for everyone.

“Most of the seniors I work with say the best gift of all is spending time with family,” said Emily Buntin, marketing director for Carson. “Unhurried, uncomplicated family time will mean the most to them and will create memories to last all year long. Give the best gift of all – your time.”

Here are 10 tips to help seniors and you make the most of the holiday season:

Share a holiday tradition: Have a senior share something special during the holiday season with you that comes from their own holiday memories, be it a favorite cookie, decorations, arranging a centerpiece or a favorite movie or song that you can engage them with.

A quiet spot: Many seniors live in environments that are relatively quiet, with a limited amount of activity in a day. Think about how much stimulation may be in your environment, and limit the amount of activities or time seniors are involved in them. Loud family gatherings can be a bit much, so a quiet place to sit down may be a good refuge.

Think ahead: Before an event begins, put yourself in your senior’s shoes. Do you have difficulty walking? Do you have trouble remembering names? Plan ahead to make adjustments that can rectify the situation to make it more amenable. It can be as simple as moving some furniture and making nametags.

Recognize their limitations: Encourage older family members to take it easy and let you pamper them for a change, but let them help with smaller, less complicated tasks if they want to participate.

Listen to their stories: Many older relatives live in their memories. Encourage them to talk about holidays gone by. If they keep albums, ask to see the pictures. They may have some wonderful traditions from their childhood that you can incorporate into your own family’s plans.

Cook a favorite meal together: Prepare a dish the senior loved as a child or once prepared as a holiday tradition. Involving the senior in the process, instead of making it for them, allows the senior to feel helpful and needed.

Set up a Christmas tree or Menorah: Decorations add so much to the holiday season. Help your loved one feel at home during the holidays by setting up their Christmas tree or Menorah with them. Again, having them help you put ornaments on the tree or plugging in the lights can make the senior feel helpful and involved.

Take a ride around town: Many seniors don’t drive as much as they did, but they’d love to see the holiday decorations at retail stores and by holiday-zealous neighbors.

Make it easy to get around: If a senior is coming for a visit, remove slippery throw rugs and other items that could present barriers to a senior who has difficulty walking or balance problems.

Stay in touch: For seniors, it’s so important to let them know you are thinking of them during the holidays, especially to those who are alone. Seniors today are of the generation that loves the simple things: a note in the mail, or a phone call. Invite them for a cup of coffee; it doesn’t have to be much. It’s the thought that counts.

Carson Valley Senior Living in Gardnerville offers independent and assisted-living options for residents. It is operated by Integral Senior Living, which manages independent, assisted-living and memory-care properties. For more information call 775-749-3038 or go to http://www.carsonvalleyseniorliving.com/.