A common misconception about assisted living is that it’s a place for seniors to be locked up and isolated. However, this is the opposite of the truth. Today’s assisted living facilities are more like resorts. They come with wellness centers, restaurant-style dining, swimming pools, beauty parlors, theaters, and more. Good facilities have everything for everyone’s interests. In fact, a key benefit of a senior living community is the easy access to social activities, events, and social gatherings.
Assisted living might sound like a social paradise when you look at it like this. If you’re a caregiver, then you may not realize that your loved one isn’t required to be all that social.
Social activities are mostly optional, but social interaction can still happen at meal tables, in the dining area, or the shared community spaces. If your loved one is more of a private person, then they have the option of staying in their apartment and eating in there.
If you’re a caregiver who is concerned that your loved one isn’t being social enough, or you’re a resident in assisted living who would like to break out of your shell, then we can help!
As we said, even with the access provided with assisted living, it can be hard for some seniors to break the ice with their fellow residents.
The sooner the ice is broken, so to speak the better. Making new friends and acquaintances will make you feel more at home sooner. In addition to signing on with some programs early on, there are other ways to help break the ice during the holidays specifically.
Activity ideas to encourage social interaction
When it comes to loneliness, the holiday season can be a tough time for seniors in assisted living. Not having immediate family around can be difficult, whether due to distance or even loss.
If you’re in this situation or know someone who is, these six tips can help generate some warmth and possibly gain new friends. These are some seasonal and holiday activities that can help seniors in assisted living “break the ice”.
1. New Years Resolutions
Many people love to make New Years resolutions. So why not make a game out of them too?
The first senior should get a group of other seniors together.
Start by having everyone write down 1-2 new years resolutions, each on a small separate piece of paper. No one should attach their names to their resolutions.
Next, have all of the resolutions placed into a jar with someone to manage it. This person will draw out the resolutions one at a time and read them aloud. The crowd will take turns guessing whose resolution it is. This will be a great icebreaker for both new and old residents alike and even more fun for the residents who have been around longer.
2. Time Capsule
Time passes too fast, especially for seniors. So what better way to help create a feeling of preservation than with a time capsule? This is fun and also gives you a feeling of passing something on to the next generations of the facility.
So what you do is get a gathering of every resident (or as many as you can) and have them place something in the time capsule. Allow everyone to say a few words about why what they placed inside is important. This can not only help you break the ice, but also help others break the ice as well. Even the shyest and most reclusive seniors will feel like opening up at this time.
3. Party Time
So everyone loves parties (well most of us). Decorations are a major facet of a party. This presents an opportunity for seniors in assisted living. Have everyone who’s interested start decorating and making decorations for the upcoming parties (Christmas and New Year parties). Whether it be painting, drawing, cutting, etc., have everyone join in.
To do this well, designate an empty room or space where seniors can decorate. They’ll appreciate you for it. Providing all of the materials for everyone is a bonus. Let them craft new decorations at their leisure. On the eve of the party, everyone can hang up decorations. This will create a festive spirit that will uplift everyone at the party even more!
4. Dinner Time
Almost every senior has a favorite food that brings back memories of happy times. Whether it be a delectable ham or a special sugar cookie recipe, there’s probably something for everyone.
So let’s take this idea and put it to work for everyone at once! Ask your fellow seniors what their favorite dishes were and how to make them. That way, Christmas dinner can be a feast and a trip down memory lane.
For the cherry on top, ask everyone what their favorite food was and why. As they share their memories with the group, everyone can be entertained.
This one is fun. Do some research on your own about how other cultures celebrate new years and plan a party in that kind of style.
Many seniors will enjoy learning about other cultures and the world in this way. In fact it might be so interesting that it becomes a yearly event in your community!
Many seniors are living out their last days right now. You might be one of them. Anyone who is in this situation will certainly be aware of this.
If you’ve lost any loved ones this year, it’s a healthy idea to devote a few moments to remember them. Think about the positive aspects of them that you miss. Better yet, make this a group event with everyone involved.
Why is this so powerful? When we pass, most of us want to be remembered. We feel the same desire for our loved ones – knowing that people remember them for something good is comforting to us. So, have everyone mention a loved one who has passed away and what kind of person they were – the memory of everyone’s loved ones will live on through others.