Activities For Seniors During Chinese New Year

15 Activities For Seniors During Chinese New Year

Festive seasons such as Chinese New Year can bring about feelings of loneliness and isolation. Here are 15 activities you can do with your senior loved ones this lunar new year.

by Calvyn Ee

Have you started preparations for Chinese New Year? If you have taken a look at our previous article, we hope that you have had some inspiration to how you can change your approach this year and make it a merrier occasion.

Celebrating with Seniors

Having the whole family together for the festive season is always a wonderful time. For senior members of the household, though, this might not always be the case. They may easily feel disconnected from all the positivity regardless of the overall mood. As they age, they find their health begins to falter, friends and family pass away, and sudden changes occur that they cannot reconcile with. With their wellbeing, especially, they may feel like a burden as they require more help from others with activities of daily living (ADL).

Feelings of loneliness and even anger will crop up from time to time, so it is important to show them that you still care for them. Spending quality time with them, surrounded by other loved ones, is a good way to demonstrate the love and affection everyone has for them.

Tips for New Caregivers

Depression in the elderly is a serious issue that can happen if an elderly loved one feels sad and/or neglected for a long period of time. It may not be apparent at first, as signs of depression are sometimes misinterpreted as other conditions. Such misdiagnosis can stem from a lack of understanding of the person’s feelings, or the person’s refusal to admit that they are feeling depressed, among other things.

It is also important that you actively listen to what your loved one says, even if the discussion does become a negative one. An honest and empathetic conversation can allow them to speak up about what is bothering them. Maybe they are still coming to terms with their health or something that you said or did that bothered them. Talking it out may also help the both of you understand what is really going on, and allow both of you to further strengthen familial bonds. Empathy, patience and tolerance can go a long way to help you and your loved one work things out slowly but surely.

While getting them to participate in activities with others is greatly beneficial, be sure to know where to draw the line. If your loved one has dementia, make sure you guide them slowly on things they can do, and encourage them when they get it right. Adjust activities to match their energy level, their abilities and weaknesses, and other relevant criteria that you know is important. If they insist on doing activities that could tax their wellbeing, persuade them otherwise, or work on a compromise instead.

Spending quality time together with your loved ones will always make for cherished moments shared together, which will help to elevate their mood and keep them going. They will appreciate every moment spent with the entire family.

Family Time at Home

With the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing, what better way to spend Chinese New Year than in the comforts of one’s own home? It is still possible to visit relatives and close friends, but be sure to observe standard operating procedures set by the government at all times (maintain distance, wear masks, etc.). If you are receiving guests, be sure to remind them in order to keep everyone safe.

Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning is a way to usher in the new year by removing old items and bringing in new ones. This helps to remove negative energy and welcomes good fortune into your home. Festive decorations are one thing, but tidying up the house is another. It can be a good way to make spring cleaning more wholesome by working together to sort unwanted items, rearrange the furniture, or sweep out the trash.

Before starting, make a schedule for what needs to be done and prioritise important tasks. Space out spring cleaning between two to three days so you and your loved one don’t burn out from all the tasks in the list. Assign tasks that your loved one can do, and keep an eye on them while you busy yourself. If they are not very familiar with a task, show them how to do it, and then let them demonstrate to you. You can put on some music as well to make for a groovy time.

If you are clearing out unwanted items, instead of throwing them out, you and your loved one can sift through the items and find those that are still in good condition and give them to charitable organisations. What better way to kick off the new year is by giving back to the community.

Decorating Together

Arts and crafts are another way to get everyone together to do fun, meaningful things. With the house now spick and span, the next phase is to start decorating the house. Instead of buying ready-made decorative furnishings, consider making them at home. Get the relevant art tools – coloured paper, coloured pens and markers, ribbons, and an assortment of others – and have everyone make something. You can find a variety of simple art projects that everyone can work on together, from paper cranes to good luck signs to firecrackers made out of red packets.

Have everyone working together in the same room, so that everyone can share ideas and maybe some laughs as well. Be sure to keep a close eye on your loved one when handling scissors or other sharp objects. If possible, do not allow them to use these tools, and let someone else do it for them. And don’t worry if something does not turn out the way you hoped; the more important thing is to have fun making these decorations together.

Cooking Up a Storm

If your loved one is able to help out in the kitchen, have them help you with simple meal preparations. Try to avoid assigning them tasks that involve the use of sharp objects like knives, as a safety precaution. You can have them help keep track of cooking timings, for example, or help garnish the dishes that are ready. You could even have one of them read the cookbook for you if you are consulting one. If they do want to be part of the cooking, be sure to guide them through the process or if they know what they are doing, just be close by in case of anything.

When the meals are ready, you can also ask your loved one to help set up the table and call on the guests to let them know lunch/dinner is served.

Fun Times

Chinese New Year could be made more enjoyable with some fun family games to play that everyone can take part in. You could go with all-time favourites like dominoes, mahjong or card games to pass the time with one another. You might want to consider new things as well; you could, for example, make some shadow puppets together and then stage a simple play based on Chinese mythology for guests or other family members. Other simple games like charades can also make for some wonderful, laugh-out-loud moments.

The goal is to get as much laughter out of everyone, so plan the games to be as fun as possible. If some games might be a challenge for your loved one (charades might not be suitable for those with dementia), look for a better alternative that they can be a part of.

Gift Giving

Christmas is not the only festivity that emphasises on gift-giving. You can even have gift-giving as an activity that everyone can partake in. You can even use the Secret Santa gift-giving model to spruce things up. Simply consult with your loved one on what they might like, and what they plan to get their chosen gift receiver. With how easy it is to buy things online these days, you and your loved one can look through platforms like Shopee or Lazada to pick out gifts – and maybe wrapping paper, too, while you’re at it. You could get healthy foods as gifts, too; Eu Yan Sang, Signature Market and AmazinGrace may have festive packages at decent prices.

Once you have the gift, spend time together to wrap it up. Let your loved one try to do it, and give them a hand when they need it. Encourage them through the process and avoid belittling their efforts so as to not hurt their feelings.

Cultural Appreciation

It is always good to know the meaning behind Chinese New Year, beyond just the feasting and merry-making. You may know by now that red is viewed as a colour of good luck, but did you know that the use of fireworks is attributed to the Chinese mythos of scaring off the monster Nian, thus preventing it from attacking villages? Did you also know that lion dances also originated from this same myth? There is a lot to learn about the significance behind many customary practises observed by the Chinese during this auspicious period.

Spend some time with your loved one reading about the cultural roots of Chinese New Year, and you may both gain some new insights on the festivities. And, as mentioned earlier, both of you can even hold a shadow puppet play with all the knowledge you have gained.

Sharing Optimism

2022 might not have started on a high note, but there is still much to be thankful for. It is thus a good idea to have a simple family session where everyone shares their hopes for the new year, and what they are grateful for. It is always better to look ahead to good things instead of letting yourself be bogged down by negativity, especially when the Chinese New Year tradition is to welcome good tidings and chase away bad vibes.

Start the session yourself and let others share their thoughts before you let your loved one share theirs. Hearing what the others’ hopes for the year ahead are can possibly give them a good reason to feel grateful as well, and may help them come up with an answer of their own.

Group Video Call

Visiting distant relatives may have stopped because of COVID-19, but that does not mean you won’t see them again. Video calls are the best and easiest way to stay in touch with relatives who are living in farther states, or in other parts of the world; no need for postcards and a waiting time of a few months. Have your loved ones join in on calls so that they can also catch up with these relatives. See if you can make these calls a regularity, even if it is only once a month, to maintain familial bonds amid the pandemic.

Dress to Impress

Have your loved one dressed in their best clothing. They may worry about not looking as good as they did when they were younger, or because their poor health may be a hindrance. Still, putting on some nice clothes can be a vibrant way to perk up their mood and self-confidence. You can even help them plan out their wardrobe and make suggestions for their outfit of the day. Choose vibrant colours as well; the general rule of thumb is to wear bright colours like red, yellow and orange for greater auspiciousness.

Recap:

Make this Chinese New Year at home a more memorable one by focusing on love, joy and togetherness. Spend time doing things together, revel in the festivities, and be grateful for all the good times shared as a family.

Going Out and About

What better way to usher in Chinese New Year than to paint the town red in your festive wear? Not literally, of course!

Seeing Relatives

The reunion dinner is the most important aspect of Chinese New Year, when families get together with relatives and close friends for a wonderful meal together. You may have had your reunion dinner, but invitations from relatives are difficult to pass up, especially when there is going to be an equally sumptuous feast waiting.

Your loved one may also be excited about it, but be sure to keep tabs on how they feel; it can be quite easy for them to feel either neglected or overwhelmed with all that is going on. Be at their side at all times, if possible, or have someone help you look out for them. There may also be unexpected moments where a less-than-pleasant relative brings up old grudges or off-putting details, so be sure to avoid unnecessary stressors on behalf of your loved one. Chinese New Year is a time to welcome good tidings, after all.

You also do not need to accept every invitation you receive. Going out can be tiring, especially for your loved one, so prioritise instead on the gatherings that are most meaningful to you and your loved one.

Shopping

A little retail therapy is always welcome, especially during the festive season. Getting new goodies is a surefire way to usher in the Year of the Tiger, but be sure to have a budget planned so you do not end up overspending unnecessarily. Your loved one might not have a list of things they might like, so be sure to look around with them for something that catches their eye. It could be new clothes, fancy furnishings for the house, or a simple ornament to place on their bedside table.

Visit a Temple

Chinese families will normally pay a visit to a local temple to give offerings to the deities and wish for a prosperous year ahead. Before the pandemic, some temples even held special prayer ceremonies or more celebratory events, and even some charitable ones, for Chinese New Year. Many, if not all, of these activities, will have to be put on hold due to COVID-19, but many temples are still operating and have a number of attractive qualities of their own beyond their religious purposes. In Ipoh, for example, the Kek Lok Toong cave temple is well known for its beautiful natural interiors and a large garden that is perfect for walks or to admire the temple’s environment.

Watch a Lion Dance

Festive occasions may be few this year, but if you have the opportunity to watch a lion dance, be sure to bring your loved one as well. Lion dances are loud, merry performances that are typically performed as a way to welcome the new year with a bang, in a literal and figurative sense. If your loved one uses a hearing aid, it is advisable to keep them at a distance where the loud clashing of drums and cymbals does not interfere with their hearing, as the performers can go all out with their instruments.

Dine Out

Make a reservation at the family’s favourite dining place, and let everyone enjoy some delectable dishes. It always helps to plan ahead of time and make a reservation early, especially if you know the place will be packed during the festive season. Consider placing the orders ahead of time, too, and have them serve it once everyone arrives; just be sure to arrive on time!

If possible, try to avoid places like fast food outlets, as they tend to have foods with a high amount of additives, like sugar, salt and oil. In some restaurants, you may be able to speak to the wait staff on suggestions for healthy meal choices, or if the chefs may be able to accommodate specific dietary needs. Consider the following suggestions and see what strikes your fancy!

Enjoy Nature

Amid all the exciting happenings, it can be good to take a break from the noise and find some serenity in nature’s beauty. Take a detour to the nearby park, catch some fresh air and admire the scenery. It is good to take a step back and relax in a comfortable environment, away from the hustle and bustle of the city and its sounds.

Giving Back

With all the challenges that Malaysians have been facing as of late, you and your loved one can always play a small part in helping your fellow countrymen out in any way you can. Giving away unused and well-kept items is one way; you can also channel funds, foodstuffs or other general items to other charities that are helping those in need. Every little contribution made can go a long way to helping a desperate family out through these hard times.

There are a variety of other ways you can spice up this Chinese New Year with your loved one. Revel in the good times together with love, respect and care for one another, and may this Year of the Tiger be a blessed one for you and your family!

Recap:

Going out to paint the town red should be something everyone can look forward to. Whether it is in the city or somewhere more serene, spend quality time with your loved ones through the day and let the festivities guide you onward with plenty of joyous memories.

Here at Homage, we provide caregiving services for your loved ones every step of the way at your convenience. Our trained care professionals can provide companionship, nursing care, night caregiving, home therapy and more to keep your loved ones active and engaged. We aim to provide you with the worry-free care that your loved one deserves.

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References

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Carino, A. (2021). 5 Ways to Make Spring Cleaning Fun! Retrieved 12 January, 2022 from https://medium.com/illumination/5-ways-to-make-spring-cleaning-fun-e951dd1f60f6 

Daily Caring. (n.d.). 7 Ways for Caregivers to Reduce Stress During the Holidays. Retrieved 11 January, 2022 from https://dailycaring.com/ways-for-caregivers-to-reduce-stress-during-holidays/ 

Fritze, D. (2016). Your Mental Health This Holiday and Beyond: 4 Steps to Combat Loneliness in Seniors. Retrieved 11 January, 2022 from https://www.ncoa.org/article/four-steps-to-combat-loneliness-in-seniors-during-the-holiday-and-beyond 

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Medicareful Living. (2019). Popular Ways for Seniors to Celebrate Chinese New Year. Retrieved 11 January, 2022 from https://living.medicareful.com/popular-ways-for-seniors-to-celebrate-chinese-new-year 

S&S Worldwide. (n.d.). 9 Senior Activities to Celebrate Chinese New Year. Retrieved 11 January, 2022 from https://www.ssww.com/blog/9-senior-activities-to-celebrate-chinese-new-year/ 

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About the Writer
Calvyn Ee
Calvyn is an aspiring author, poet and storyteller. He spends his time reading, gaming and building stories with his action figure photography.
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