While not all of us may celebrate Easter, it’s the one of the rare times in the year where many of us have a four day weekend. So this can be a great opportunity to spend quality time with your ageing parents. However, it can also be a challenging time, especially if your parents are experiencing age-related health issues or mobility issues. This article should help you plan before Easter arrives to make sure to plan ahead to ensure that everything goes as smoothly as possible when sharing Easter with ageing parents.
You should think about your parents’ mobility, dietary restrictions, and any medical needs they may have. Make sure to coordinate with any siblings or family members who will be attending the Easter celebration so that everyone is on the same page. How are your parents going to get to the celebration? Who’s driving or picking them up? How are they getting home? Here are five tips on sharing Easter with ageing parents that can help make the experience more enjoyable and comfortable for everyone involved.
Please note we have used the term Easter here but these tips can be applied to any big gathering.
1. Consider your parents’ dietary needs
If your parents have dietary restrictions or preferences, make sure to take these into consideration when planning your Easter menu. For example, if your parents are on a low-salt diet, you may need to adjust your recipes accordingly. Alternatively, you could opt for healthier alternatives to traditional Easter treats such as dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. If you’re eating out, make sure the restaurant can accomodate your parent’s dietary needs.
2. Choose activities that everyone can participate in
When planning Easter activities, make sure to choose activities that everyone can participate in, regardless of their age or mobility limitations. This could include activities such as egg decorating or a family Easter egg hunt. You could also plan a family game night or movie marathon that everyone can enjoy together.
Egg cracking competition
In our family we have an egg cracking competition before we eat our main meal. We use boiled eggs that some of the children dyed previously (you could do this with your ageing parents in the lead-up). Everyone makes a fist around the egg, then one person will crack it on top of the other person’s egg. The person who’s egg hasn’t cracked wins. This goes on around the table, with the uncracked egg, the winner each time. You do this with everyone until the person with last uncracked egg wins! With more than 30 people attending our Easter lunch, this game goes on for a while. If your group is smaller than ours, you might want to consider having more eggs so you can have more rounds. Remember to do this boiled eggs only – otherwise it can be super messy!
3. Communicate clearly and include them in conversations
Your parent might also be hard of hearing, so consider that in your planning. Do they have one side that is better than the other? If so, put the person they want to have conversations with the most on that side. You might also have to speak louder, particularly if it’s a noisy place or there are children playing nearby. But not so much that they feel they are being spoken down to (they’re not dumb, they just can’t hear properly). You might also want to consider background noise. While some of you might like background music, they can make it difficult to hear. We’re not saying to mute the music but you might want to think about where the speakers are in relation to your parent or anyone with trouble hearing.
During the day, take a moment to check in on them and if they are being included in conversations. Too often older people are ignored during these types of big gatherings as the younger generations catch up. Try and not include your parents in the conversation, but get them to lead it. Ask them questions about their life. How did they celebrate Easter or other festivities as a child?
4. Make sure your parents are comfortable
If your parents have mobility issues, make sure to take steps to ensure that they are comfortable throughout the Easter celebration. This could include setting up comfortable seating arrangements, ensuring that there are handrails in place if needed, and providing extra cushions or blankets if necessary. If your parent has a mobility aid such as a walker, clear the path ahead of the celebration if you can, so there isn’t a fuss on the day.
5. Be mindful of your parents’ energy levels and provide a quiet place if possible
It’s important to be mindful of your parents’ energy levels throughout the day, especially if they have health issues or mobility limitations. Consider having breaks in activities or meal courses throughout the day to allow your parents to rest and recharge, and be flexible with your schedule if necessary.
The hustle and bustle of Easter and other celebrations can get a bit too much for all of us, let alone the older generation, so try and create a space where they can get away from the noise for a little while. They may even want to have an afternoon nap after lunch (one of my personal favourite things to do after a big long lunch). Also don’t get offended if they get annoyed with people, they might not be used to having so many people in the one place. You might also need to explain this behaviour to children – “Grandma didn’t mean to be rude, she just can’t hear properly with everyone talking.”so try and create a space where they can get away from the noise for a little while.
Sharing Easter with ageing parents can be a wonderful way to spend time together as a family. By planning ahead and being mindful of your parents’ needs, you can help make the day enjoyable and comfortable for everyone involved.
Some useful links
Carers’ Circle article on communicating with ageing parents – “I’m old not stupid” – how to better communicate with our ageing parents – https://carerscircle.com.au/2020/12/28/how-to-better-communicate-with-our-ageing-parents/
Carers’ Circle article for more ideas on sharing large gatherings with ageing parents – Tips for sharing Christmas with elderly parents – https://carerscircle.com.au/2021/12/19/tips-for-sharing-christmas-with-elderly-parents/
Great article from our contributor Megan van Genderen on how to get helpers to clean up after Christmas lunch. You can apply some of the same tips to your Easter celebration – https://www.thefamilynutritionist.com.au/post/8th-day-of-christmas-how-to-get-helpers-to-clean-up-after-christmas-lunch
Photo credit Happy grandmother and granddaughter bonding from RawPixel