Let Senior Living Ease Your Holiday Hassles

Subscribe for Updates

Let Senior Living Ease Your Holiday Hassles

Senior living communities are changing the way families celebrate the holidays—while preserving long-held traditions.

Margaret Watts and her husband, Bill, moved to Westminster Gardens, a HumanGood senior living community in Duarte, California, four days before Christmas. Suffice it to say, planning a family gathering seemed difficult, if not impossible.

“The furthest thing from my mind was the holidays, but I also didn’t want to overlook a very special time of the year for my family,” says Watts.

To Margaret and Bill’s surprise, their holiday traditions came together seamlessly. Watts’ daughters and their families brought a Christmas tree, pulled out Watts’ decorations and helped transform the apartment into a winter wonderland filled with food and family. The family cooked and brought over special dishes honoring Bill’s English heritage, including roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. Amid all the laughter and happiness, everyone enjoyed holiday music.

Afterward, the children helped wash dishes and clean up the apartment.

“We wound up having a wonderful time,” Watts says. “It was as enjoyable as any Christmas we have celebrated.”

Holiday traditions are an important part of our lives and our culture. They help us stay connected to the people and things that matter most, form a bond between generations and create shared memories. But preparing a house and meals for holiday gatherings can be demanding and exhausting.

Fortunately, many seniors are finding that the perks of independent living particularly pay off around the holidays. In-house gourmet chefs, comfortable gathering spaces and no-fuss setup and cleanup help to minimize stress so residents can maximize time spent with family, celebrate longtime traditions and possibly introduce new rituals and customs for years to come.

“Throughout our lives, it is important to enjoy existing traditions but constantly add and adjust them to fit the circumstances,” says Tina B. Tessina, a licensed psychotherapist based in Southern California and author of “It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction.” The key to maintaining tradition in a new setting is to stay focused on what defines us.

Christmas also continues to serve as a happy and special time of the year for Dougie Dolfie, a resident of Royal Oaks, a HumanGood senior living community in Bradbury, California. Every year, she decorates her apartment with a tree and a Nativity scene that dates back to her childhood. Her three children and six grandchildren trek to the beach near Santa Monica on Christmas Eve day for a game of touch football and later gather for dinner in a room at Royal Oaks.

“We have the chef prepare an excellent catered dinner,” she says. “We enjoy all of our traditional Christmas foods, and it’s fun and stress-free.”

Dolfie says there’s no reason to let go of the past and the holiday traditions that come to define a person or a family.

“It is possible to keep traditions going with a few changes,” she says. “I enjoy Christmas as much as ever. It is still a magical and wonderful time of the year.”

The idea is to adapt to your setting, embrace the present and do whatever works best for your family.

Another way to enjoy the holidays: Host a buffet or a tree-decorating party where people come and go as they please—bringing cookies or a special dish, or enjoying a drink. “If people move away, try to entice them back for the annual event,” Tessina says. “Let them know how great it was by sending pictures and telling them how much you miss them.”

If hosting a gathering in your apartment seems overwhelming, try a family potluck in a reserved room. Or better yet, let the community dining staff or a restaurant make dinner so you can relax and spend more time enjoying company.

Beyond immediate family, Tessina suggests inviting cousins and extended relatives—as well as friends who have no family.

If you don’t have family or friends in the area, another benefit of senior living is the built-in social circles. Residents often celebrate together.

“Adopt them into your traditions and make new traditions,” Tessina says.

Share This Article


Contact Us

We’d love to hear from you. Here’s how.

Contact Us


Meet our team and learn more about our community.

About Us