Health Advocate Blog

Helping ill or elderly loved ones have a happy holiday

The holidays can be a difficult time for those who are ill or very elderly. They can feel isolated and alone, and may be prone to depression. The holidays are a great time to bring cheer to your loved one who is ill or elderly. Whether you help them by taking a task off their plate or by simply spending time with them, your love and support can help them feel less alone and allow them to have a happier holiday. Consider trying these ideas to bring some holiday help and joy into their lives.

Do something together

  • Take them to a movie, or bring a movie to their home to watch with them. Consider choosing something holiday-themed or funny to help keep their spirits up.
  • Cook a meal together. Pick something healthy but comforting!
  • Go for a walk or a drive. You can check out the holiday lights and decorations!
  • Do a project together, like completing a puzzle or working on a craft.
  • Play board games. There are many options to choose from, from the simple—like Uno—to the more complex and involved, like Monopoly.
  • Reminisce with them. It can be comforting to remember happier times. Pull out old photo albums, watch family videos or simply chat about previous holidays.

Offer assistance

  • Help them with their holiday cards or thank-you notes. Offer to take them out to get stamps, mail the cards for them, or address the envelopes for them.
  • Help them with their errands or chores. Ask what they need help with and offer to do it. They may need help with their laundry, meal preparation, grocery shopping, or picking up their prescriptions, just to name a few.
  • Help them order holiday gifts. Offer to take them shopping if they are up to it, or to help them search online and order gifts.
  • Help get them involved in community activities. Help them look up support groups or activities (like tai chi or crafting) that they could join to keep them social.
  • Help them decorate for the holidays. Offer to help them put up lights, set up their decorations—whatever they would like to do to make their space seem more festive.

Bring the celebrations to them

  • If your loved one is home-bound or in an inpatient facility and unable to leave for traditional gatherings, plan special events to bring the celebration to them.
  • Ask your loved one what they would feel comfortable with and how they would like to celebrate. They may enjoy a small, intimate gathering or they may have a list of people they would like to see.
  • Check with the facility or person with whom they are living to see if there is space to host a gathering.
  • If your loved one resides in their own dwelling, but is unable to travel, offer to prepare, execute and clean up after the event.
  • Be flexible and considerate. Your loved one may not be physically capable of participating in activities as they would in the past—even if you bring the celebration to them. Consider ways to modify traditions so that they may still partake. For example, if they must eat at a certain time of day based on their medication schedule, be sure to accommodate their needs.

From all of us at Health Advocate, we hope you and your loved ones have a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season.