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Celebrating Festivals with Older Family Members: A guide

Mar 08 2018

By Evan Thompson



It has long been known that social isolation can take its toll on the health of older individuals. A lack of connection with other people not only affects declining physical and mental health but can also lead to depression and poor emotional health.

Older individuals staying with their families are less likely to feel lonely given the constant interactions with their loved ones. On the other hand, it might not be possible for family members to regularly meet or talk to older family members staying by themselves or at a care facility.

In both cases though, getting together with seniors on joyous occasions like festivals and birthdays, and encouraging them to be a part of all the festivities can be highly beneficial to their well-being.

If you’ve never taken up such a challenge before, here’s all you need to know about celebrating festivals and special occasions with your older family members.

How Does It Benefit Seniors?

Festivals and special occasions are a wonderful time for each generation in the family to get together and enjoy some quality time. This way, older family members not only get to share the fun and excitement, but also feel satisfied with their lives and relationships.

Leading a social life also combats the negative effects of isolation with the following benefits:

  • Improved Physical Health: Staying engaged in activities and helping with minor household chores requires physical movement. Studies show that even a little bit of exercise can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and various forms of arthritis, as well as improve overall health.
  • Enhanced Mental Health: Conversing with others, doing minor chores and partaking in activities can prevent cognitive decline while boosting mental health. Socializing also keeps the brain stimulated and can reduce the risk of Alzheimer's and dementia.
  • Increased Emotional Health: It has been found that social interaction releases oxytocin in the body. This lowers stress levels and boosts good feelings, helping seniors lead a happy and enriching life.

How to Celebrate with Seniors?

If you’re celebrating a festival or a special occasion at home, this should be easy. If your senior family member stays at a care facility, be sure to stay in line with the rules.

  • Play music to promote a festive feel and to help relieve stress. Play some new songs that might appeal to older family members, but for the most part, play old favorites and classics.
  • Cook food that your older family members are sure to love. Most importantly, serve foods that they will be able to eat easily. You might want to involve them in baking or cooking a family recipe.
  • Get your family members to participate in activities and conversations. Use old photos or memories to get them to talk or sing songs together.
  • Older adults need time to get ready, and given their age and health condition, it can be difficult for them to stick to a schedule. As such, don’t expect them to be punctual and don’t ask them to hurry up. Plan celebrations such that nothing is foiled if you fall behind schedule.
  • Don’t plan for celebrations to extend well into the night; keep your older family member’s daily routine in mind. If you want your loved ones to participate in late night events—for example, a New Year countdown—hold a mock event earlier in the evening or right before their bedtime.

How to Ensure Comfort and Safety?

You’re celebrating with an older adult; not just younger family members. So, keep these do’s and don’ts in mind to make the celebrations enjoyable for your elders.

  • If you’re partying out, remember to choose a location that is accessible for your older family members. You don’t want to head out for lunch or dinner to a restaurant that doesn’t have wheelchair accessibility.
  • Don’t be too loud; older people cannot filter out distractions, as well as younger individuals. Seniors might also be particularly sensitive to noise, and you don’t want your loved ones to face any kind of discomfort.
  • Don’t surprise them. The elderly can be temperamental, and you don’t want your loved one to be upset about anything. Moreover, it’s better to inform them of what you’re planning so they can plan their day accordingly.
  • Don’t have a tightly packed schedule, as older adults can tire out easily. Space activities evenly through the day with enough time to rest and catch up with family members in-between.
  • Be prepared for emergencies. Take your older family member’s health condition and daily routine into consideration and ensure you’re prepared for mishaps.
  • Have a backup plan in place so the celebrations can keep going. For example, if you intend to celebrate outdoors and it gets chilly or begins to rain, you should have planned seating indoors.
  • Always watch out for signs of discomfort or tiredness, and escort the senior to a calm, quiet place if they feel overwhelmed by all the festivities. Be sure to not force your loved one to do anything they aren’t willing to.


Planning celebrations with older family members isn’t hard; you just have to be mindful of a few things due to their age and health condition. With the information provided here, you now know how celebrating with the elderly can be beneficial to them, and how you can go about enjoying festivals and special occasions with your loved ones.

So, keep these tips in mind and gear up to spend some memorable moments with your elders!

Happy celebrating!

Evan Thompson, CEO and Founder of Senior. One has a long-standing interest in finding solutions for seniors. He helps connect senior citizens and their family members with elder care service providers and find the resources they need in one place. He offers information on nursing homes, hospice, financial planning, adult care, lifestyle and Albuquerque senior housing. He provides information on housing, medical professionals, financial planning services, and lifestyle options.