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The NSPA Blog

Meaningful holiday tips for aging families

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Posted on November 6th, 2018 by Teri Dreher, under Tips & Resources

As parents age, holiday dynamics typically change for families

When we’re little kids, the holidays can be the most exciting time of the year. No matter what you celebrate (or don’t), holidays can still feel exciting as we age. Still, gift giving usually changes over the years. Instead of hoping for a Tickle-me-Elmo, adult children may be simply hoping for piece of mind that their parents are safe. Or, they may be hoping to not get yet another cookbook from their great-aunt out of state. No matter what the changes are, they’re almost always there. For this holiday season, consider other options for having a meaningful holiday season of giving.

Our favorite ways to have a meaningful holiday season now that our own kids have grown up

At NShore, we’ve brainstormed a list of ways to spread holiday cheer outside of immediate family gift giving.

  • Sponsor a family in need
    • This option is very popular. Lots of churches, malls, and charity-run services have easy tips for how to help families that need help the most during the holidays. Sponsoring a family typically means providing toys, clothes, or other items for families that don’t have the means to get more than the bare necessities. They’ll provide you with how many members are in the family, what items are at the top of their wish lists, and what their clothing sizes are.
  • Donate to a food bank or shelter
    • Perhaps the easiest option, this one requires minimum effort. Pack up those canned food items you’ve had sitting in your pantry and give them to an organization that will actually use them. If you’re not sure where to go, trying googling food banks or shelters in your area. A simple donation can make your holidays more meaningful and truly help those in need.
  • Volunteer your time for some face-to-face time well spent
    • While our last two options involve financial contributions, there are certainly ways to have a meaningful holiday season that don’t involve money. After my siblings and I grew up and spread out across the country, my parents felt a little lonely during holidays that we couldn’t all be together. The great solution they found? Spending holidays volunteering at our local center for the homeless. This has been a great way for them to get involved with the community and make some really meaningful connections. This option is also a great idea for families that don’t do well together during the holidays.

The one small caveat

Sharing our resources with those in need is a great way to make for a meaningful holiday season, and we can’t advocate for it enough. Unfortunately, we also need to advise that aging adults be wary of scammers during the holiday season. Charity scams are on the rise and it’s important that seniors are protected. For tips on how to avoid charity scams, visit this link from the Federal Trade Commission.

With over 36 years of clinical experience in Critical Care nursing, home based health care and expertise as a cardiovascular nurse clinician, Teri is well acquainted with the complexities of the modern healthcare system. She has served as a nursing leader, mentor, educator, and consistent patient advocate throughout her career in some of the best hospitals across the country. Her passion to keep the patient at the center of the model of nursing care led her to incorporate NShore Patient Advocates, LLC in 2011, serving clients throughout the northern suburbs of Chicago.

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