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social connection holidays

The holidays! It’s a time for food, fun, family and traditions. As your parents and/or grandparents age, family traditions may need to change to accommodate their current health limitations. But that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop.

While it may be sad to see certain traditions end, it can be fun and exciting to shake things up a bit and start new ones.

So where to start? First, make your parents, grandparents or whomever the aging relative may be, part of the new traditions. Show them they are not forgotten and make a connection with them at this important time of year. Remember that social connection is key to their overall wellness. Just look at some of the benefits of social connectivity:

Benefits of Social Connectivity

  • Improves longevity
  • Reduces risk of obesity, heart attacks
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Reduces aging’s effect on cognitive abilities
  • Lower levels of anxiety and depression
  • Boosts empathy and self-esteem
  • Creates a positive feedback loop with others

Before you make any plans, check in with your parent, grandparent or loved one to see how they would like to spend the holiday. Take the time to understand their limits. Once you have that in place, here are two quick tips to help keep that connection strong over the holidays:

  1. Make the Most of Their Time

Having a large group visit at once might be overwhelming for some seniors. If you have a big family perhaps split up the visits so there is someone visiting each day of the holiday. The benefit, you get more one-on-one time with your loved one!

If your loved one is in a seniors’ home, inquire as to whether you can bring one of their favourite holiday foods in. And if they are up for it, check to see if there is a party room you can rent out and bring the holiday dinner to them!

And if they are in a hospital, you can still visit. Check with the hospital, and specifically the ward they are in, for visiting hours and any rules or restrictions. Share this with your extended family and encourage them to visit.

Take lots of pictures and make sure your bring updated family pictures to leave behind.

  1. Get Tech Savvy
    Thanks to technology you can be miles away from a loved one but still connect “in person” over the holidays. Video calling allow us to see loved ones, making them, and you, feel a lot closer. Seniors can see people open gifts and feel a genuine connection over video. These days it’s as simple as touching a button.

There are countless options to connect with your loved one virtually; it depends on their lifestyle and smart device. Here are two we find especially useful:

Skype: This free service is available on Android and Apple devices. Much like a telephone you simply dial a Skype number and get face-to-face interaction. This makes communicating across provinces and countries easy!

Facetime: This application comes pre-installed on Apple devices. It uses your device’s camera for face-to-face calls on a mobile network or Wi-Fi. Use it from any iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or Mac to call anyone else using any one of these same devices.

During the holiday season it’s important to remember that togetherness and connections come first. Family traditions can grow and change with time, just as the family does, and that is totally fine. Embrace new traditions and find ways to adapt your old ones. The most important thing is that those near and dear to your heart are together.

If you need someone to talk to over the holidays, whether it’s to share your excitement, get a new recipe or just simply talk, we are always here for you.