Unwrapping Inclusion: Thoughts for the Holidays

by Cynthia Germain

The holiday season embodies a spirit of joy and togetherness, yet for some of our older community members, this time may pose challenges that could lead to a sense of isolation. Whether it’s from health considerations or the absence of loved ones, it is important to proactively address these issues and ensure that our older friends and family members feel supported during the holidays. Here’s few things to consider:

Initiate conversations about holiday plans in advance to get to know preferences and limitations. This early dialogue allows for the tailoring activities to accommodate their specific needs.  When orchestrating holiday gatherings, prioritize inclusivity.  Try to select places that are both comfortable and accessible, and plan activities that cater to a diverse range of interests and capabilities. Recognize potential mobility challenges and offer assistance in coordinating transportation, eliminating barriers to participation.

Investigate local events and resources designed to engage older adults during the holidays. Our ADRC is a good place to start.  They not only have a number of activities planned but also know of other community events that would be meaningful to a person of a certain generation.  Also encourage the older adults in your life to participate in volunteer activities during the holiday season. Volunteering not only imparts a sense of purpose but also facilitates social interaction and engagement within the broader community.

Offer supporting older adults in embracing technology to connect with friends and family. Provide guidance in setting up and utilizing devices for video calls, emails, or social media, fostering meaningful connections regardless of physical distances.  And alternatively, sit down with an older adult to make out holiday cards.  In this day and age, that personal touch that gets delivered in the mail can be even more significant.

And most importantly, cultivate enduring traditions that hold significance for older adults. Whether centered around culinary activities or home decoration, such rituals provide continuity and anticipation during the holidays.  With some planning and fostering of connections, we can be sure that older adults in our lives are not only included but celebrated during this festive time.