How Seniors Can Help with Thanksgiving Dinner

By Alyssa Ball

Holidays can cause a lot of stress for older adults and their families. Traditions can bring up poignant and painful memories, and having the family together can highlight declining health and loss of independence in senior loved ones. But seniors should never be left out of the holiday festivities.  

Even if mom can’t help out in the kitchen like she used to, there are many ways that she can still contribute. Here’s how you can involve aging loved ones in Thanksgiving this year.

1. Picking the Menu

Aging loved ones might not be able to make their favorite dishes anymore, but they can help you build a menu to impress. After all, they do have a lot of experience with Thanksgiving meals, so they could have a list of standout recipes. 

Seniors may also have special dietary restrictions to accommodate health conditions. Or they might have trouble eating certain foods. Make sure you take these considerations into account when menu planning. If you need some ideas, here’s a list of healthy Thanksgiving dishes

2. Shopping for Ingredients

There will be lots of ingredients that you will need for a full Thanksgiving feast. Invite your loved one to go to the store with you if they are able. There are also inevitable last-minute trips to the store on Thanksgiving Day. You can also take your loved one on those trips too, so they can feel like they are an important part of making the meal possible.  

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3. Helping with Meal Prep

If a senior can’t cook safely anymore, that doesn’t mean they can’t still contribute to a dish. Ask your aging loved one to help mash potatoes by hand, wash produce, dump pre-measured seasonings into a bowl, and help with other safe and easy tasks.  

There are also a number of no-bake dishes that a senior can help put together. They might need a little help from you to prep foods, but they can mix up the ingredients so that delicious recipes are ready to serve at dinnertime.

4. Setting the Table

Invite a senior to help set the table. If you are using glass dishware, you can set that out first and then ask for help. Your aging loved ones can put their own spin on setting the table. They might remember the way that they used to fold cloth napkins or have a specific way to set the wine glasses and all of the silverware. Plus, they get to take credit for how great it looks when everyone takes a seat. 

5. Decorating the House 

To help make the day feel more special, you can decorate your house with fall-themed decorations. While you might have some fall décor already out, try to leave some decorations for your loved ones. Maybe they can add flowers to the table or arrange some pumpkins on the porch. They could even work on a craft, like making table setting cards. Decorating can help your aging loved one feel involved while also adding an extra magical touch to Thanksgiving Day. 

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6. Hosting the Party

While your mom or dad might not be able to be in the kitchen anymore, they can certainly host the party! Friends and family members will need some entertainment while dinner is finishing up. Put your loved one in charge of greeting guests as they arrive, taking their coats, showing people where appetizers are, making conversation, etc. 

7. Tasting Dishes

One of the most important tasks in the kitchen is taste testing to make sure the food is perfect! Your loved one can help you taste test each dish to make sure the seasoning and texture is just right. This can help an aging senior feel more in control of the big Thanksgiving feast — even if they aren’t able to help cook as much as they would have liked.

8. Cutting Dessert

Do you have a special pumpkin pie or a delicious apple crumble? Whatever dessert might be, ask the senior in your life if they want to be in charge of cutting dessert. A simple pie cutter should do the trick for getting the pie to the dessert plates. You may even want to elevate dessert by asking them to sprinkle some seasoning on top or adding a dollop of whipped cream on the side.  

The loved ones in your life should always be included in as many family activities as possible. Thanksgiving is sure to be a memorable one when you let them help. Caring Senior Service is always here to help so that you have the support that you need with the seniors in your life. 

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Tags: Holidays