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Through the Eyes of Our Parents: The Holidays

With Honolulu Hale festive and the weather outside in the cozy mid-seventies, the holidays in Hawaii are a wonderful time to gather with family and friends. For many, this time of year is one of excess. Taking a break from other responsibilities presents a great opportunity to get in more fun, sunshine, and food. But for our aging loved ones, there are times when all the festivities and attention can be a bit overwhelming. As we approach the holiday season, experiencing the holidays through your loved ones’ eyes can help you be more aware and understanding of the effect the holidays have on seniors.

Keep expectations manageable

Large family gatherings and increased outings during the holiday season could put unnecessary stress and pressure on your loved one – particularly if they tire easily or aren’t accustomed to all the company. Plan ahead and consider the number of activities and events your aging relative attends to ensure they feel completely comfortable. Letting them take the afternoon off instead of spending an entire day at the mall with the cousins just might be the break your loved one needs to be ready to go for a big family dinner later in the evening.

Balance the past, present, and future

The holidays are strongly tied to memories. Introspection is an important part of the aging process. Reminiscing about past events can be a great way to help your loved one relive those good feelings, however, it can also remind them of how different things are now. Balance old memories by creating new ones – whether that means starting a new holiday tradition, building anticipation for an upcoming event, or enjoying a new hobby or activity together.

Mind their involvement

Your loved one may not be able to contribute in the same capacity they once used to, but that doesn’t mean they should skip out on holiday festivities altogether. Involve them in as much as you can by making accommodations or switching up roles if need be. For instance, have your loved one contribute a special dish or dessert instead of undertaking the entire holiday meal by themselves. Or if your loved one no longer drives, arrange transportation to ensure he/she can still attend events and get-togethers.

Acknowledge their feelings

The last thing you want to do is dismiss or denigrate any unhappiness or loneliness your loved one may be feeling. Remind them that it’s completely normal to be experiencing such sentiments and that they are not the only ones who feel this way. Sometimes just being an attentive and loving listener can drastically boost their mood and spirits.

With the near constant demands placed on our time throughout the year, the holidays are a rare reprieve and a welcome moment to return clarity to our lives. Amid the pressure we place on ourselves to make sure all the festivities go well we can forget the stresses placed on our aging loved ones. Being aware of the demands we place on our seniors during the holidays and their feelings as they spend time with their children and grandchildren can help make your holidays a time of joy and remembrance in the midst of a busy life.

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