Hold onto your hats! Here they come, earlier than ever, those magical and stress-inducing holidays! I knew we were in trouble this summer when back-to-school supplies began clogging the aisles in the middle of July while I was shopping for a beach towel! And then again, a couple of weeks later, when I noticed the disturbing, simultaneous appearance of Halloween candy and Christmas merchandise on the shelves. I understand the retailers’ rationale, but still, I would rather experience the holidays in real time, not six months in advance.In any case, here we are, at the cusp of the holiday season. At least we get to ease into the madness with Thanksgiving, the most pressure-free of the holidays. No presents or any of that mayhem, just food, family and relaxing.
I hear more and more people say that Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday. It has always been mine, so I totally understand how they feel. I truly look forward to it and we all need something to look forward to, it’s what keeps us going!
And even though we get a little cranky about all the pressure and expectation put upon us by ourselves and others during the holidays, isn’t it better to be in such demand than not at all?
Imagine the elder person, not able to come and go at will, but who must wait for others to stop by for a visit or to drive them somewhere. How difficult to be in that position! Especially since they, too, were once in the same boat, busy with their families, working and fretting over the holiday craziness, being pulled in every direction. Now their role is peripheral. They are no longer at the head of the table, literally and figuratively.
Granted, some people are happy to move over and embrace their solitude as freedom! Others, though, not so much. Sometimes the isolation can be overwhelming. For the person who would rather be around people instead of sitting alone each day, there are some options. There are Adult Day Programs which provide meals, activities, social interaction and, in some situations, clinical assessment and treatment for seniors. In many cases, the program also provides door to door transportation so the senior doesn’t even have to worry about getting a ride! They can socialize by day and be independent by night! They can create new holiday memories with the friends they meet each day at the program.
Or, there are assisted living communities, where seniors can be around people 24/7 and retire to their apartments when they opt for some solitude. Meanwhile they have the peace of mind in knowing that there are people all around them and professional clinicians to offer needed assistance.
Congregate living, reminiscent of those memorable times experienced in college, can once again be a fun and comforting setting for seniors, just some decades later! It’s an opportunity for seniors to share special times and holidays within their new community and not feel so alone in between family visits.
Once again, these seniors will have the opportunity to welcome the holidays, and every day, on their terms! They can participate in organized parties, crafts, religious services, outings and holiday shopping. It can be a new and satisfying chapter in their lives.
In the meantime, though, if you know someone is alone, especially with the approaching holidays, or you see an elder person sitting off to the side at a festive holiday gathering, make a point to sit and visit with them. You will feel the true spirit of the holiday and so will they.
As a full continuum of care organization, Bethel provides the abovementioned programs, among others, and is happy to be an informational resource for seniors and their families. For more information, please call Bethel’s Springvale Inn at 914-739-4404 and/or Bethel’s Adult Day program at 914-941-7300.