The holidays can be a difficult time when your parents or grandparents live in an independent senior living in Chicago community. You want to make sure they still feel connected, loved, and that their spirits are bright. Though you may not be able to celebrate the exact same traditions you once did, with some creativity and planning, you can ensure your loved ones feel special this holiday season.

Stay Connected From Afar

If you don’t live close enough to visit your loved ones frequently, you can still make them feel loved and connected by reaching out consistently. Make an effort to call more often during the holidays – set up weekly video calls to catch up. Send thoughtful cards or care packages, so they have something to open. Share favorite family recipes so they can carry on traditions in their own kitchen or with neighbors. Email recent photos or a digital holiday card they can proudly display in their apartment. Finding small ways to bridge the physical gap will mean a lot.

Plan a Visit

Nothing beats an in-person celebration if you’re able. Mark the holidays on your calendar early and book travel to spend time with your loved ones. Ask if their community hosts any events for residents and families – many have Thanksgiving dinners or holiday parties. Attend one of these or host your own intimate gathering in your loved one’s apartment or a community common space. If your family usually goes to holiday concerts or shows, look for similar local performances your loved one could attend and enjoy the experience by their side.

Keep Important Traditions Alive

Think through what your loved one would miss most from your family’s holiday celebrations. Find creative ways for those elements to still be part of their season. Mail ingredients for traditional recipes or the finished dish if cooking is challenging for them now. Play their favorite holiday music during video calls and talk about memories it brings up. If you always watch certain shows or movies, schedule a viewing together virtually. Display old holiday cards and photos where they reside as nostalgic decorations. Reminisce over your most meaningful traditions – the stories and laughs will fill their heart.

Give Gifts that Uplift

Focus gift giving on what would truly make the season special for your loved one. Give service-oriented presents if possible, so they don’t have to worry about accumulating too many possessions. Offer to assist with holiday tasks like putting up decorations, mailing holiday cards, wrapping gifts or planning a special meal. Check their needs before shopping and give them essential and useful items. Make photo books of cherished family memories or record an oral history of their recollections. Share digital subscriptions or memberships related to their hobbies. Give the gift of time and connection through regular visits or calls.

Remember Quality Over Quantity

When visiting aging loved ones for the holidays, remember that while you may have boundless energy anticipating favorite traditions, they may tire or feel overwhelmed more quickly. Keep gatherings intimate instead of inviting the whole extended family. Schedule adequate rest time between activities. Share favorite parts of holidays past through photo albums, videos or conversational reminiscing instead of trying to cram too much into a short visit. Offer to handle tasks for them while visiting, like cleaning, organizing or decorating, so they can save their energy for quality time with you. Slowing down and focusing on meaningful moments will lift their spirits.

The holidays may look different when your family lives apart in independent senior housing, but that doesn’t make them any less special. Use these tips to uplift your loved ones’ hearts and continue traditions in creative new ways! The time you spend connecting with and cherishing one another will become the most precious gift.