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Helping a Senior Loved One Look Forward to the New Year

The new year can seem like a daunting prospect to seniors, especially those who live by themselves and may be lonely. Add health, mobility, or memory issues to the mix, and thinking about 2023 can be completely overwhelming. Uncertainty about the future also clouds the enjoyment of a festive New Year, so if you have a loved one in hospice in San Mateo and elsewhere, heed these tips for helping them look forward to the upcoming year.

Tips for Celebrating the New Year

Part of helping your loved one look forward to a whole new year is to celebrate the actual holiday to get them prepared. From making a time capsule and taking a stroll down memory lane to baking desserts and doing crafts, here are some ways to get them excited for 2023.

  • Prepare good luck foods: People around the world celebrate the new year with certain lucky foods to ensure the coming year will be prosperous. For example, Spanish and Portuguese people eat twelve grapes at midnight, which symbolizes the twelve months of the new year, according to Medicare. In Greece, people smash pomegranates on the floor in front of doors to break them open, with the spilled seeds a symbol of prosperity and good fortune. In other regions of the world, people eat ring-shaped foods to symbolize coming full circle.
  • Make a time capsule: Fill a container with items that hold deep meaning to your senior loved one. Then store it or bury it for future generations to find years later as a snapshot of their grandmother/great-grandmother, etc. You can include anything from writing samples and menus to concert tickets and photos.
  • Bake desserts: Everyone loves a holiday treat, so take the time to bake some with your loved one. Follow the instructions slowly step by step, which helps to engage their short- and long-term memory. This is an ideal mental exercise that’s disguised as a fun time!
  • Celebrate a decade: Have your loved one choose a decade, then take a stroll down memory lane with clippings, photos, song playlists, and more from that genre. You can even make it a party theme from that decade, with complimentary drinks, food, clothing, and more. Bring your senior loved one back to a simpler time that they can remember fondly.
  • Take a world food tour: You don’t need a passport, but you do need some good food and some imagination. Research how different cultures around the world celebrate the New Year with cuisine. Make several dishes from several different countries, labeling each as you go. It will be fun to sample the cuisines of various cultures while learning something along the way. Get kids involved too, as it can enlighten and entertain them as well.
  • Do crafts: Make party favors for an upcoming New Year’s get-together, such as fun hats, party poppers, noisemakers, and other favors. This helps strengthen hand-eye coordination and gives their creative side a boost.
  • Have a movie night: Watch old films that are set around New Year’s, like Chimes at Midnight (released in 1965), Holiday (released in 1938), ‘Til We Meet Again (released in 1940), or Holiday Inn (released in 1942).
  • Enjoy a New Year’s Day brunch: Your senior loved one may not be able to stay up till midnight to watch the ball drop, so celebrate on New Year’s Day at noon instead. Make a reservation at a beloved restaurant or cook a favorite meal at home. While counting down to noon, cheer with some orange juice or milk.

As you can see, there are many ways to celebrate the new year; just be sure to keep the lines of communication open and take cues from them when it’s time to rest.

Preparing For a New Chapter

While celebrating New Year’s is a great way to welcome the new year, the underlying sadness they may feel may still be present as they — and you — face an uncertain future. Take this time to comfort them, share stories, reminisce, resolve old grievances, and allow them to express any fears about death they may have, suggests HelpGuide. Try not to make plans too far in the future, as this could have the opposite effect on your loved one, with profound sadness rather than comfort.

Above all, let them talk about their life, how they feel, what their biggest achievements were, and how they want to be remembered. They may have advice for family members, such as grandchildren, to impart, so listen and take it all in. Talking about their past is a cathartic way for seniors to regain perspective on their life as well as the process of dying.

Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice

We understand it can be especially difficult being in hospice over the holidays and into the new year, but our caregivers do all they can to ensure your loved one is happy and healthy as we head into 2023. Contact us at 888-978-1306 to find out how we can make the transition easier.