Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, will begin at sunset on Sunday, December 22, ending on Monday, December 30. This eight-day Jewish celebration normally involves visiting family; if your elderly loved one lives alone or in a retirement home, here are some ways they can celebrate with a caregiver, family member, or friends.
Simply visiting elderly parents or grandparents is the best way to cheer them up for Hanukkah. If you can’t get to them in time for the holidays, consider using an application like FaceTime on your phone or tablet to video-chat with them. You can set a time and date for the virtual visit, which is more personal than a phone call. If a hearing problem makes calls impossible, consider sending cards, care packages, or a gift basket.
Decorating the House
Decorating is a fun, easy way to put your elderly loved one in the holiday spirit. It doesn’t need to be much: Simply unpacking some old family ornaments and hanging them around a senior’s house or residence can boost their mood. These can be festive banners, holiday lights, paper dreidels, a blue & white wreath, or anything else to bring about holiday joy.
Don’t forget about music! Playing some uplifting Hanukkah songs can set a cheerful and cozy ambience, and allow for reminiscing on happy memories of past holidays.
Fun with Food
Baking (and eating) traditional Hanukkah treats is one of the best parts of the holiday. On top of being a fun activity to do with your elderly loved one, cooking allows you to give them the gift of homemade holiday foods they don’t get to enjoy very often. Some dishes often enjoyed around this time of year include:
- Potato latkes;
- Jelly-filled doughnuts (sufganiyot);
- Matzo ball soup;
- Challah bread;
- Brisket, etc.
If you aren’t great in the kitchen (or you simply can’t be there for Hanukkah), consider hiring a caregiver who can cook up some traditional cuisine. If your senior loved one can join in to help, even better! Cooking and baking are fun activities for seniors, and can help keep their mind active.
It’s no secret: older adults love telling stories. With Hanukkah being a celebration most families spend together, it’s the perfect opportunity to invite your elderly loved one to tell stories. Whether it’s personal accounts or historical tales about the holiday, listening attentively to the stories they have to tell is a valuable gift for everyone involved. Sharing stories with grandchildren and other family members is a healthy, fun activity for the elderly during Hanukkah. Even if you’ve already heard them before, be patient and be engaged, as this simple act can mean the world to your elderly loved one.
Some families have their own special Hanukkah traditions. If this is the case, then be sure to include them when spending time with your elderly parents this holiday season! There are, of course, many other rituals commonly performed at this time of the season. Lighting the candles is an obvious one, which is usually followed by singing Ma’oz Tzur. You could also spin a dreidel, a traditional game to play during the holidays.
Giving presents has not traditionally been a part of Hanukkah. In recent years, however, many families have chosen to incorporate the exchange of gifts into their holiday celebrations. You can get your loved one some blue and white flowers, or find other gifts they’ll enjoy.
Find a Local Event
During the holiday season, there seems to be an endless number of community events taking place. These can be at religious places (i.e. synagogues), a civic center, or within your loved one’s retirement community. You can find these events listed in the newspaper, or on your Montreal area’s website.