The holidays are here! As families visit their senior loved ones during this time, we hope to provide tangible tips to help maximize time with loved ones.

Mallorie Richardson, VP of Engagement with The Arbor Company, shares ways to make the holidays special with your family and senior loved one(s), whether at home or in a senior living community. 


Video Transcript

- Hello, everyone, and welcome into Senior Living Live. My name is Melissa. Thank you so much for being with us here today. Well, we've got Thanksgiving in the books, and now we move on to celebrating all of our holidays for the month of December. Today we wanna share tips on how you can maximize time with senior loved ones and make the very most out of the holiday season. Mallorie Richardson is with me now to kick off this discussion. Mallorie, how are you today?

- I'm great. How are you, Melissa?

- I'm doing excellent. Thank you so much. First, tell us a little bit about you and what you do for the Arbor Company.

- Sure. Well, first off, thank you so much for inviting me to join you today. As you said, I'm Mallorie and I work for the Arbor Company. I've worked for the Arbor Company for just over seven years, and I work on the Engagement Support Team. So what that means is that I support our Engagement or Activities departments, making sure that they have a brainstorming buddy to make sure that they have the best programs and the best calendar possible for our residents.

- Wonderful, yeah, a very, very important role, for sure, and that's kind of why we invited you for this particular topic and this conversation, because it sort of is all about that aspect of it for the holidays, right? So we talk about making the most of the holidays. We'll start by how we can do that with family members who are maybe still living at home and haven't quite made that leap into senior living. How can we make the holidays memorable for them?

- I think that we make the holidays special for seniors that are still living at home the same way we make the holidays special for anyone or for ourselves, and we continue to focus on our holiday traditions. Every family has their own special holiday traditions, so we keep those alive, maybe reminiscing on past holidays by looking at old photo albums or watching old videos, holiday videos. I think the one thing to keep in mind as our seniors are getting older and maybe experiencing some memory loss is not to try to pack too much into one day. We don't want the holidays to be too overstimulating, so making sure that we allow downtime, maybe time for rest if needed, just so that everyone can keep their energy up and enjoy all the festivities.

- Yeah, that's a really good tip. I like that. And now for those maybe in senior living, and here it it's kind of nice 'cause you have a little bit of extra help with the staff. So how can you make the best holiday season for those individuals living in a senior living community?

- Well, like you said, you have lots of help and assistance, and when you're in senior living, you have lots of different spaces that you can use. I think one thing that families tend to do is come in and have this big, large event. Everyone's there for an hour, hour and a half and you invite everyone at once. I think people could do it a little bit differently, maybe stretch those visits out over the course of the day or over the weekend. Because whenever you bring 10 people into a senior living community for a visit, it can be very overstimulating. So have one or two people, maybe three people, stop in, spend a little bit of time, and then a half hour later, let another group come in. I think spreading it out will make it more meaningful and more intimate and just make it a more special time with your family.

- Yeah, and it doesn't feel like this one big day with this big draw of energy. You can just do little spurts of it at a time. That is also a really good tip. And I know that we talk about engagement and I know that Engagement staff members are huge when it comes to activities in December, knowing some may have family visiting often and others might not, right?

- Absolutely. I think that the Engagement Department does a great job of making sure that the holidays are special, whether you have visitors all month long or no visitors at all. I think in addition to the Engagement team, the whole community does a great job with that. We make sure that the community feels and smells and looks like the holidays so that when you walk into the building, it's enjoyable and pleasant. But then we also have big parties that are planned throughout the month that we can invite families to or invite obviously the residents to. And then also the day of the holidays, we have special things going on. So even if you don't have any family members coming to visit you, you have your Arbor family there to celebrate with. So whether it is watching a Christmas movie or having a festive meal, whatever it may be, there is always something going on. So whether you have families visiting or not, you have something to do, a way to celebrate.

- Yeah, and I like that the communities also recognize that, hey, Christmas isn't the only holiday in December. You have Hanukkah, you've got Kwanza, you've got multiple holidays that people of all backgrounds will celebrate, and so attention is paid to all of that. And I think that's just a wonderful thing, that everybody is included and it's inclusive. So let's talk about that window of time following the holidays, when it can feel a little bit gloomy depending on where you live, especially outside. So what can we do to ensure that there isn't such a big drop off from the holidays to our normal routine?

- I think that's one of the great things about living in senior living, is there's not as much of a drop off, because the decorations may be gone, the caroling may not be around, but you still have a robust engagement calendar. So I do feel like seniors living in our senior living communities might have a little bit less of a drop off because we just go into January and we have a brand new calendar, brand new events, and there's always something going on. So I really feel like we might experience those winter blues just a little bit less because you have a whole team there to make sure that you're engaged and having fun.

- Yeah, that is a really good point. You know, those engagement schedules can be jam packed. It doesn't mean you have to do everything on them.

- Right.

- But it just gives you an opportunity to be a part of something or to do something that may interest you every single month of the year, so that is a very good point. Finally, I know you've been at this a while now, so you've been in and outta communities, and we love how all of the Arbor communities look during the holidays, and as you said, how they look, how they smell, how they feel. It definitely has that Christmas card vibe when you walk in. What are some of your favorite moments that you've seen or been a part of during your time during the holidays with the Arbor Company?

- Oh, there's so many different events that I have seen and experienced. You mentioned Christmas cards. I think one of my favorite memories is one of our communities had a horse drawn carriage for the residents and the families to experience. I mean, it doesn't get more holiday card than that, right? And then obviously there's just tends to be more family visits during the holidays, so that's always nice to see people with their loved ones, spending time sharing memories. I've seen cookie exchanges done in the communities, which is always so much fun. A lot of grandchildren or intergenerational programs coming in and singing with the residents or performing for the residents, which is great. There's just, during the holiday season, there's always laughter and fun in our buildings, but during the holiday season, it's just that much more.

- Yeah, and it's there, it's daily, and again, it's all holidays across the month for everybody who may celebrate one or the other. So it is a wonderful time of year especially, and I know that we talk about perhaps if you're interested in senior living, the holidays is, it's a nice time to to get out and see the communities and to visit a community because of that sort of additional holiday cheer, that extra bit of oomph, if you will, for each and every community with the Arbor Company. It's just wonderful. So Mallorie, I appreciate you so much coming on with us to take your time to be with us to share your knowledge about what we can do to make the holidays a little bit special for our senior loved ones.

- Absolutely, it's always a joy to be with you.

- Yeah, thank you so much. Now, if you enjoyed this video with Mallorie, we've got so many more for you. Head on over to our website. It's All of our videos are free and they are all about senior living. Thank you so much for being a part of Senior Living Live. Have a great day everybody, and happy holidays.

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