Many cherish the holiday season, which often is spent participating in long-held traditions and reminiscing about shared experiences with loved ones.

What many don’t realize is that this time of year can be especially difficult for senior living residents who suffer from loneliness, depression or even homesickness. On top of that, residents may live far away from their loved ones and have limited mobility to travel to family gatherings.

With this in mind, it’s vital for senior living providers to make their communities feel warm and welcoming over the holidays. Here are just a few ways we accomplish this at my community, The Kenwood by Senior Star in Cincinnati:

  • Honor diverse traditions: Our residents belong to a wide variety of religious communities and enjoy celebrating their faith during December. It’s our priority to make sure residents feel comfortable honoring their religious traditions on our campus. For example, we just hosted a local rabbi and students who helped us celebrate Hanukkah. Residents brought their own menorahs to share with the group and bonded over song and dance.
  • Evoke spirit and socialization through music: Although we use music to engage our residents year-round, it can conjure comforting memories during the holiday season and can help residents socialize with one another. We host concerts by local choruses, woodwind trios, high school students and more to spread the sounds of the season on campus. A Christmas caroling group also is a great opportunity for residents to sing their favorite holiday songs.
  • Plan themed trips: Many of our residents are unable to drive, which makes participating in some of their favorite traditions difficult. Our transportation shuttle and programming staff help make regular outings during the holiday season possible. From drive-through holiday light displays to poinsettia and gingerbread house exhibitions at a nearby Cincinnati conservatory, residents enjoy getting in the holiday spirit, meeting other residents and switching up their scenery.
  • Champion employees who exceed expectations: The Kenwood’s associates are incredible stewards who help residents feel comfortable and supported. Our leadership team encourages this as much as possible. Each year, one of our team members spends one week creating homemade treats for our residents. This spirit is contagious — now, many of our employees help bake, bag and hand-deliver treats. Some residents love it so much they even ask to help deliver the cookies to their friends!
  • Offer an ear over lunch or dinner: Not all residents have fond memories of the holiday season. Instead of celebrating, some may be seeking a reassuring confidante with a listening ear. My favorite way to connect with residents is over a meal in our dining hall. Sharing a meal while chatting with a resident is an excellent way to make them feel heard and supported.

An important reminder: No matter the season, senior living providers play a crucial role in brightening their residents’ lives. We hope some of these insights will help spread joy through your community this month and into the future.