New Year’s Eve typically gets associated with staying up late and going to big, raucous parties—not exactly the ideal activities for seniors. That doesn’t mean that you and your elderly loved one can’t celebrate the holiday together. We’ve shared a few simple New Year’s activities below that are well suited to older adults. Try them out, and remember it’s smart to have your celebration at an alternative time, such as morning or afternoon, especially for seniors with dementia who may experience “sundowning” in the evening hours.
1. Share a Favorite Meal
Does your loved one have a favorite dish? Make a plan to enjoy it together. If you’re cooking at home, give him or her simple cooking tasks, such as sorting ingredients, rinsing vegetables, or stirring batter. If you’re eating out, treat it as a special occasion and invite parents to get dressed up or even have their hair done.
2. Reflect on Years Gone By
Pick a few important years from your parent’s life, such as the year he or she got married, or when children were born. Sit down together to look at photos of those days and talk about what they were like.
3. Have a Singalong
Listening to music and sharing singalongs are two great activities for seniors with dementia in particular. Start by making a playlist with your loved one of all his or her favorite songs. You can do this online via YouTube or a free music service, such as Spotify. You can also skip this step and simply play your parent’s favorite CD's or musical movie. The real fun is in singing along together.
4. Make a Party Hat
A custom party hat is an easy New Year’s craft that seniors of all cognitive and physical abilities can make. Help your parent measure a piece of construction paper to his or her head, then ask them to decorate it. Markers, stickers, stamps, and glitter pens are all great supplies to have on hand—there’s no right or wrong way.
5. Set New Year’s Intentions
For many, New Year’s resolutions trigger thoughts of weight loss or career goals, two topics that aren’t very relevant for seniors. Instead, come up with positive intentions for the coming year, such as spending time together, enjoying lifelong passions like music and art, or simply taking time to appreciate the little things, like the sound of birds or changing seasons.