Together, Thankfully: How To Plan An Inclusive Thanksgiving

November 16, 2022

The holiday season is around the corner, and this time of year represents a time of togetherness and gratitude. But not all adults feel included: according to an AARP study, 31% of adults report feeling lonely during the holidays. 

As you begin to plan for Thanksgiving and beyond, there are ways to ensure your holidays are warm and welcoming for your loved one in long term care. 

Here are our tips:

  1. Invite your loved one to celebrate with you, if possible (and plan transportation accordingly).

If your loved one is able to join you, inviting them to celebrate with you is a wonderful option. If your senior must travel by car or plane, consider tips to make the journey easier, like auto aids to assist with comfort in the car or understanding carry-on policies for medications. 

  1. Bring the party to them!

If your loved one cannot leave their long term care community for the holidays, you can bring the celebration to them by:

  • Bringing a Thanksgiving dinner of their favorite foods
  • Decorating with them
  • Writing down what you’re grateful for and placing reminders around their living space
  • Playing board games, watching football… you name it!

Each individual facility has different expectations when it comes to guests, so remember to check in with the facility before planning anything. 

Can’t make Thanksgiving day work? That’s okay! You can coordinate another time to celebrate the holiday while still including them on the day (i.e., a quick call or a Thanksgiving card).

  1. Check the community calendar.

Nursing homes and assisted living communities often host holiday celebrations for residents and staff. Contact the facilities’ community or activities manager to see if they are holding any events that include friends and family.

For bonus points, show long term care staff gratitude by giving them a card or saying thank you on the day!

  1. Connect with their care team.

Before the holiday, talk with your loved one’s care team to ensure you are up-to-date on medications, any physical or mental changes, or other information pertaining to your loved one’s care. Sometimes this information can only be shared with a specific person in the family who has been designated to know your loved one’s private health information. If that’s the case, work together as a family unit to learn the latest.

  1. Keep dietary restrictions in mind.

When planning holiday meals, remember to keep your loved one’s nutrition and sensitivities in mind. If they have any health conditions, it may be harder for them to eat certain foods. Check with the dietary staff at their long term care community for any advice. Lists of senior-friendly foods offer delicious, inclusive options that are easy to eat and taste great.

  1. Anticipate your loved one’s needs and adjust accordingly.

Be mindful that, regardless of where your celebration happens, there are aspects of the holidays that may need to be modified from previous years: Thanksgiving dinner may need to become Thanksgiving lunch; Dad may not be able to assist with cooking, or Mom may not lead the family in saying grace. While these adjustments are often emotional, anticipating your loved one’s needs and adjusting accordingly is an act of love – and helps your family member participate in the day.