Making wreaths or popcorn garlands is fun, and caroling is always uplifting for those who enjoy singing. But for active seniors who call the gorgeous San Gabriel Valley home, with its beautiful year-round weather, some super-creative holiday activities can add a little spice to the season.
Here are our top picks for senior living fun during the holidays:
- Scavenger Hunt. With Elf on the Shelf, seniors can have as much fun hunting for hidden objects as kids typically do. And instead of spreading the hunt all over the neighborhood, you can play this game in your house — or we might just surprise you here at The Kensington Sierra Madre! The first senior to find the day’s hidden elf wins a prize, and helps our team hide it somewhere in the community for the next day. It’s a great way to get some essential exercise and have fun at the same time.
- Secret Santa. Some seniors may recall this form of gift exchange from their school days, when each child was asked to bring an inexpensive gift for one other student. During the exchange of presents, nobody knew the identity of their Secret Santa. It was an egalitarian way to ensure everybody received something — and the element of secrecy made it a lot of fun, besides. For seniors, Secret Santa is a way to meet new friends, during the big “reveal” when the identity of the anonymous gift giver is unveiled.
- It’s A Wonderful Life…at the Movies. Everybody has their holiday favorite, whether it’s Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed in Capra’s classic, Natalie Wood and Maureen O’Hara in Miracle on 34thStreet, or Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney in White Christmas. Pop the corn, and have someone moderate a lively discussion after each movie. You might even introduce some newer holiday films for comparison, such as Love Actually (a brilliant British romantic comedy) and You’ve Got Mail (who doesn’t love Tom Hanks?).
- That was the year that was. Scrapbooking makes a wonderful end-of-year activity that helps senior living residents recall all the fond memories they’ve created in the past year (not to mention exercising their fine motor skills). You can also create a digital scrapbook of cameos and videos from the year, and share it with everyone during movie night.
- 2020 Resolutions. Did you know next year is the year of clear vision? (20/20 — get it?). So even if your eyesight isn’t perfect, you’ll be able to see clearly with your heart. This is a great time to set some positive goals for the new year: maybe participating in more Life Enrichment activities, or getting to sleep at the same time each night to boost your health and happiness.
- Story Sharing. In the digital age, many seniors are used to being wired. And while it’s wonderful to have the world at your fingertips, being plugged in with headphones on isn’t conducive to connecting with others. Instead, create a holiday “story share”, a kind of “fireside chat” in which everyone takes a turn describing a favorite holiday memory. Keep each sharing to five minutes so everybody who wants a turn can have one.
- That’s A Wrap! This is what movie directors say when a scene is complete, but in this case, we mean it for gifts. Stage a gift-wrapping event (possibly for Secret Santa, if you decide to hold one) and provide wrapping paper, scissors (if appropriate), tape, and ribbon. It doesn’t matter if the gifts are wrapped perfectly or not; it’s the opportunity to bond and enjoy the experience that counts.
- Clothing Swap. There may be a woman somewhere who isn’t interested in clothes, but we haven’t met her yet. And most men care about their appearance, too (just maybe not about the clothes as much). At a clothing swap, people bring clean items, still in good condition, that they’re willing to part with, and everything is laid out on tables, organized by type of clothing. When the swap begins, seniors choose one or more items that catch their eye. It’s a fun, free way to get a new-to-you holiday outfit, or purse, or scarf, or…
- Play the Game. Games improve senior brain health by enhancing cognitive reserve (the brain’s ability to find alternate ways to get a job done) and encouraging different ways of thinking: strategy, math, and tracking moves. Whether it’s a board game such as Monopoly or Candy Land (the latter is great if the grandkids are there with you), or a card game such as Bridge or Go Fish, playing games promotes social interaction, leads to new friendships, and removes the pressure of having to make conversation all the time — especially helpful if someone is in the early stages of memory loss.
One hilarious holiday game for seniors is the reindeer antler game. If that’s a little too effusive for some, Hugs and Kisses (played with Hershey’s chocolate kisses) is a tamer game that also tests mental acuity.
- Light Up Your Life. What could be more fun at holiday time than seeing all the holiday lights and decorations around town? Gather a small group and take a walking (or driving) tour of Sierra Madre, and see how your neighbors have made the season bright.
Celebrating the Holidays at The Kensington Sierra Madre
Here at The Kensington, we do holidays right. Please join us for our Holiday Open House,where you can see our beautifully decorated residence and meet the team who cares for your loved one. While you’re here, please enjoy:
- A scrumptious buffet
- Holiday shopping
- Santa on site
and much more!
One grateful son lauded our “proactive care and tons of activities.” He says, “It feels like a luxury cruise ship when you walk inside for the first time. I have witnessed many aspects of care, community outreach, and joy for the residents.”
Come visit us soon, and discover how we can make your loved one welcome at The Kensington Sierra Madre, where we treat every day as a holiday, and every resident as a gift.