The holidays are upon us and while it can bring up much joy and happiness it can also be a stressful time of year. Maintaining mental health during the holidays is especially important in our senor population. New Year’s Eve is a special time where we reflect on the year behind us and prepare for the year ahead, all while celebrating, in the moment, with family and friends. Fireworks, bow ties and sparkles, champagne toasts, and countdowns to midnight are a few of the things we usually associate with this festive holiday. However, there are no set rules on how to celebrate, and the options to ring in the new year are endless! We’ve compiled a list of senior friendly activities that you can take part in to help make the occasion special and memorable.
Countdown to “Noon” Year
If late nights aren’t your cup of tea, or you’re worried your coach may turn into a pumpkin, we suggest a “noon” year celebration. Plan a special brunch with family, friends, or fellow residents and use the opportunity to countdown to noon instead of midnight! If you’re feeling festive, you can set a fancy table, dress to impress with a sequined shirt or sports coat, and set up the turntable with some timeless tunes. As the clock strikes noon, pour some bubbly (or sparkling grape juice) and toast to the special occasion!
Take a Walk Down Memory Lane
This is the perfect opportunity to sit down with friends or loved ones and reflect on the past. What were some special traditions that you celebrated year after year to celebrate New Years? Perhaps there are some particularly memorable stories that really stand out; retell them with a loved one and let them fill in the gaps. Reminiscing old memories is especially beneficial for Alzheimer’s patients. Sometimes recent events are difficult to remember, but they may be able to recall memories from years ago.
3. Build a Time Capsule
Choose a few items that are particularly unique to the past year and add them to a box to create a time capsule. You can include pictures from special events, headlines or news clippings from major current events, ticket stubs, a small craft, a diary entry, or any other meaningful item.
Another thing to include in your capsule is a list or summary of your “Predictions for the New Year”. This is a thought provoking activity that allows you to stay current with the times. Predictions can include price per gallon of gas or milk, political election results, popular movies or books, and family events such as marriages or babies, just to name a few ideas!
Once your capsule is filled with all of your items, tuck it away until the following New Year’s Eve, when you can then open it and relive the memories, check in on your predictions, and repeat the process for the next year.
Create a Festive Craft
Arts and crafts can be a wonderful way for seniors to pass the time, while also benefiting their health in many ways. Engaging in the arts (whether it’s music, creative writing, dance, theatre, etc) can help to boost independence, self-esteem, and cognitive abilities, just to name a few. Crafting is a wonderful activity to partake in; it usually easily presents the opportunity to create a social setting where you can engage and interact with others.
Party hats or festive headpieces would be a perfect New Year’s craft to create and then wear to a celebration. Pull out the feathers, sequins, and glitter, and get creative making the perfect accessory to ring in the new year!
You’re never too old to set goals! A simple challenge to push yourself or aim for self-improvement is the perfect way to start off the year. Your goal should be something that’s selected to make your days more meaningful and fulfilling, while also being achievable! Some ideas include completing a daily crossword puzzle, reading a certain number of minutes per day, facetiming with your grandchildren once a week, eating a nutritious breakfast each morning, reading from your Bible or other inspirational book each day, or volunteering with a local organization on a regular basis. These are merely suggestions to get you thinking in the right direction. Do not choose a goal that is overcomplicated or unreachable, as it could cause you to become discouraged and create negative feelings. Keep your goal lighthearted and fun, so you’re eager to stick with it and rise to the challenge. Whatever you choose to do, it should bring you joy and improve your quality of life!
With the new year right around the corner, we encourage you to reflect and celebrate! Relive the highs, lay to rest the lows, and pave the way for a successful year ahead!