Older people visiting at Christmas

For many, Christmas is the time of year when generations of family get together. But in the chaos of the festive season, it can sometimes feel stressful to be hosting so many people of all ages with different needs.

Here, Home Instead offers some advice on hosting older relatives and how to make them feel more comfortable and relaxed if they visit your home:

  • Make Christmas a multi-sensory experience to engage elders. Try placing scented candles around, having photographs nearby to reminisce about Christmas memories or listening to festive classics of years gone by.
  • Make sure food is flavoursome for older people as taste buds decrease as we age – extra herbs and spices should do the trick. Think about the glasses/ cups they are served – make sure they are not too big to drink from and think about how food is presented eg. For people with dementia, food is best served on a plain plate as patterns can cause confusion. Sometimes smaller portions are more appealing than serving too much and leaving the person feeling overwhelmed.
  • Dust off the traditional family games but make sure you play games ‘with’ older people rather than leaving them to participate alone (unless they want to of course). Eg, “Come on nan, we’ll play this together.” Ideal games are ones you play with a pen and paper-like tic tac toe.
  • Make it feel like home- bring their own cutlery/home comforts if they prefer and offer them a scarf or throw to keep warm if it makes them more comfortable. Make sure there’s easy access to the downstairs loo and remind them where it is if they forget.
  • Don’t over-face them with food/activities – remember that older people may have lower energy levels so make sure there is a quiet area they can go to if they feel tired. Don’t rush them and let them sit and enjoy it all. 

Take time to chat - the festive season is a good opportunity to check in with your loved one to make sure they’re coping at home. Read some tips from us about common conditions which could affect older people and how home care could help. Or find out more about having that difficult conversation about care.