Christmas is a wonderful time for families to come together and celebrate those they love. Spending time with those closest to us, by getting family and friends together this time of year, for many of us brings memories and experiences we cherish for the rest of our lives. While we enjoy ourselves and celebrate the Christmas season this year, it is important that we also remember the older members of our family and communities, who may be experiencing loneliness or unexpected solitude.
As our society ages, every year older people makeup a greater percentage of our populations. Furthermore, every year, more of our elderly population feels alone and isolated. Sadly, our society is placing less and less emphasis on caring for this segment of society. It is important that we go out of our way to fill this widening gap.
This Christmas provides a great opportunity to connect and spend time with the elderly in our own lives and, who knows, you might even learn something you didn’t know when you ask uncle Charlie about his days as a bachelor.
While planning, preparation and activities fill our calendars this time of year, here are some suggestions for remembering our older relatives and neighbors.
In a world that almost plans for everything, including play dates and scheduling for toddlers, it is easy to forget it wasn’t too long ago when people were thrilled to have their friends and family unexpectedly pop-in and say hello! Well, the previous generation is well accustomed to this and just may be overly joyed that you did. Stopping by may be grabbing a cup of coffee with your loved one and having a short conversation, or going on a walk through their neighborhood. If you live further away, and can’t just pop-in, remember to call over the holidays to catch-up and say hello. Don’t forget to mention you would be happy to also receive a call from them. Sometimes, just reminding others we are available is all it takes to start a great conversation or rekindle a relationship.
Help with the Decorations
Many of us spend ample time decorating inside and outside of our homes over Thanksgiving and Christmas. This decorating not only takes time to do, but it takes time to planning and shopping for what we think is just the right touch for the season. For elderly with mobility concerns and living alone, often, decorating for this festive season falls to the wayside. This year, take the opportunity to spend with an elderly person in your life helping decorate their home. In a brash move of selfishness, you may even get to utilize some of the decorations you haven’t put up in a number of years, that’s packed away in one of those 50 boxes of Christmas decorations in your basement.
Make Sure They’re Warm and Safe
Temperatures can linger on being warm this time of year, but when winter sets in, it always seems to set in so quickly. When making sure the elderly are safe this time of year, it is essential they are warm from the changing temperatures. Making sure furnaces are running properly and plenty of warm blankets are left out on furniture around the house are good ways to be prepared for the winter months. Outside of the house it is helpful to check on any stairs or railings that may become icy during the winter. Offering some form of ice-melt on surfaces that ice and snow accumulate is a good precaution or even offering to clean it yourself after a storm can be just the kind of Christmas cheer a loved one was hoping for.
Go Shopping Together or Attend a Play/Concert
Before heading out to grab another gift for that distant relative you never know what to get, stop by to see if your elderly neighbor or relative would like to go along. They may also need to grab something from the store and grabbing a ride with you might mean they don’t have to wait around before it’s too late to do it. While the weather is a bit frightening this time of year, you may also feel inclined to offer help with a doctor’s appointment or grabbing their prescriptions from the drugstore.
Invite them Over
A wild concept I know, but inviting multiple levels of generations together is something we tend to only do around the holidays, aside from running our own kids around town. This is one of the reasons the holidays are so joyful, because taking the opportunity in getting diverse groups of people together has many rewards. Make Christmas a time for everyone in your circle and being willing to expand it by opening your doors to an elderly neighbor or loved one, to an event or occasion you haven’t invited them to before.
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!
Most importantly, remember not to take on more than you can handle. Reach out to other family members and neighbors for help, considering bringing others along for companionship and help. This Christmas Season, give the invaluable gift of your time and warmth to someone in need of a little bit more cheer this time of year. Remind the elderly in your life how much you care for and appreciate that they are in your life.
Berger Estate & Elder Law P.A. has been serving Kansas City for over 30 years providing Trusted Council with Proactive Solutions. Give us a call today at (913) 491-6332, visit our website berger-lawfirm.com or stop by our conveniently located offices at 11233 Nall, Suite 140 Leawood, KS 66211 for more information.