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Extra Help Enhances Holidays for Older Relatives

Some thoughtful preparation can let everyone participate and celebrate

SUNDAY, Dec. 18, 2011 (HealthDay News) -- The holiday season is a time for family gatherings and it's important to include grandparents and other elderly relatives, experts say.

It is also important to consider the special needs of these older family members, according to a news release from Ryerson University in Toronto.

Some older adults may need to be picked up by car. This could be done by newly licensed grandchildren, giving the two generations an opportunity to share, connect and bond.

Keep in mind that hearing loss can be an issue for older guests. Place someone close to them at the dinner table who can repeat parts of the conversations or assist them in other ways.

Watch for when older people appear not to be part of the conversation. You can help make them feel included by asking them about their life experiences.

Bringing out old photo albums is another way to engage older family members. They can fill everyone in on the names of people, times, events and locations in the photos.

While some older adults are highly independent and don't like it when younger adult relatives try to "parent" them, others are dependent on their adult relatives in some ways. Being sensitive to these situations will improve your communications with an older family member and help everyone enjoy their time together.

If you're visiting an older relative in a long-term care facility, bring young children and perhaps even the family dog or cat, if the facility allows it. It might also be a good idea to bring familiar foods from your family's traditions and decorate a small area of the room with items that have been used in family celebrations for many years.

More information

The AGS Foundation for Health in Aging offers tips for beating the holiday blues.

SOURCE: Ryerson University, news release, Dec. 7, 2011
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