The holiday season is here, which for most of us means festive family gatherings – even if they have to be in a smaller or different form due to the pandemic this year. Despite the way you may be modifying your family gatherings, getting out can be a challenge for your loved ones who have reduced or limited mobility. Just getting in and out of a vehicle and dealing with inclined walkways or stairs can be a big challenge. It’s also important to balance your loved ones’ need to socialize and have human contact with keeping them safe and avoiding falls.
Visiting or Meeting Family
If a parent/grandparent is going to visit or meet family, it’s a good idea for everyone to take some basic precautions to prepare for it. Here are some ways in which a family can think ahead:
- As much as possible, make the house and restroom wheelchair accessible
- See to it that there is proper lighting outside and by any stairs
- Install railings by stairs and in restrooms
- Remove any loose carpets that could cause falls
- Provide a chair that is easy to sit in and stand up from
- If you’re meeting at a restaurant, make sure it is a handicapped-friendly facility
In addition, make sure to be very attentive and encourage your loved ones to express their needs. Help them acknowledge, accept, and maybe even have a sense of humor about their limited mobility and reality.
Take the Party to Your Loved One That Has a Limited Mobility
If your loved one has more serious limited mobility or too fragile to go out, then take the party to them! One of our clients recently celebrated her 90th birthday. Since she was unable to go out, small groups of family members – including adult children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren – went to see her during her birthday week, bringing balloons, flowers, small gifts, and healthy treats. Not only did it make her feel special, but the celebrations also lasted several days so that everyone could remain socially distanced!
Host A Virtual Holiday Party For Those With Limited Mobilities
The great thing about video meeting technology is that it makes it possible for friends and family members who live far apart to participate in a virtual celebration. Being able to see and talk to family members can make an elderly person’s day and reduce feelings of isolation. If your loved one lives at home and has a caregiver, ask the caregiver to assist with joining a Zoom or Skype meeting. Consider having a couple of practice sessions ahead of time, so they get used to using this tool. Be sure to provide headphones if limited hearing is an issue.
Similar to how you plan parties at home, you plan a virtual party to include a party theme and games. Some ideas include:
- Party Themes – Think of a party theme such as Nutcracker, White Christmas, Hawaiian Holidays, or just use the classic Christmas colors – red and green! Or you could center it around the decade when your loved one was young, such as the 40s, 50s, or 60s.
- Having a Dinner and Music Party – Decide on a cuisine and plan a virtual dinner party, including music to match. It can be as organized or as improvised as you’d like. If cooking isn’t an option, use a local delivery service such as DoorDash or UberEats and support a local restaurant while you’re at it!
- Creating a Vacation or Holiday Slideshow – Take a walk down memory lane with a slideshow of family holidays and/or past Christmas gatherings. Not only will it bring a smile to your loved one’s face, but it will also reinforce and rekindle memories.
- Having a Virtual Cocktail/Mocktail Hour – Dress in your finest party attire and plan a virtual cocktail party! Send out elegant invitations to make it official, either online or by mail. You could even include a “Quarantine” recipe!
- Playing a Game Online! – Whether it’s Bingo, Charades, or Pictionary, you can easily plan some classic party games without being in the same room. Just set up a group video call and you’re ready to go! Whether you generate your own downloadable cards for a game night on Zoom or try the built-in versions on the “Houseparty” app, these timeless favorites are great for family gatherings.
Some of our favorite ideas for those with limited mobility are:
- Christmas Karaoke – For all you karaoke enthusiasts out there, you can sing and perform holiday favorites together thanks to the magic of cyberspace. Sync up using YouTube, or use a website dedicated to online karaoke like “SingSnap” and host a virtual karaoke party.
- Ugly Sweater Contest – This is probably one of the easiest yet most hilarious holiday party ideas that family members of all ages can participate in. Bring on the tinsel, garlands, and other gaudy décor to produce plenty of laughter! You can also combine this with any of the party ideas mentioned above.
Whether gathering in person or online, it is possible to think out of the box so your elderly relatives who have limited mobility can join the festivities too, while feeling comfortable and staying safe. However you choose to celebrate, these holiday party ideas should help you think of ways to make the holidays both joyous and memorable for the senior in your life.