Five tips for holiday visits with seniors

During the holiday season you might be thinking of bringing your elderly loved ones home for family celebrations. If they are active and living independently, then go right ahead. But if they are facing physical or mental challenges, there are some things to consider to make your visits with elders a success:

  1. Visit your loved one on their home turf rather than bringing them out. Elders, especially those with dementia, are more comfortable in their familiar surroundings. This avoids confusion a change of environment can trigger, accessibility issues, and unexpected care issues.
  2. Winter weather brings extra challenges. Slippery conditions dramatically increase the potential for falls and injury. Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury in older adults.
  3. Keep your visit positive and relatively short. Reminisce about family gatherings and holidays in the past and bring photos to share. You can prepare a slide show on your phone or iPad in advance.
  4. Bring favorite foods to enjoy together, a pet visit, or flowers. These sensory experiences are sometimes better than gifts.
  5. Keep it simple, quiet and small. Large gatherings can be overwhelming, over stimulating and cause withdrawal or agitation. Plan to stagger visits with 2-3 people at a time.


by Joan Garbow, MSW, LCSW, CCM
Advanced Member of The Aging Life Care Association