Having a loved one in a nursing home during the holidays can be difficult for the entire family. If this is a new situation, there is the added time and stress of deciding how to make your loved one feel loved and festive. If this is a long-term situation, your family can become frustrated trying to do too much during the hectic season from Thanksgiving through New Years’. Celebrating the holidays in a nursing home does not have to be sad or even forgotten. With a little planning, you can bring holiday cheer to your loved one and their friends who are in a nursing home. Here are three tips for celebrating the holidays in a nursing home.
1. Host a Party
The staff at nursing homes can be overwhelmed caring for residents’ needs, especially during the holidays. Organizing and running a holiday part for your loved one and their friends at the facility can be fun. Let them help with the planning such as the decorations, the menu and any entertainment such as a sing-a-long, a local caroling group or a classic holiday movie.
Be sure to consult the facility staff for any food restrictions or other concerns.
2. Make It Last
The holidays can be an especially lonely time in a nursing home. We all get busy during the holidays. If you live a distance from the nursing home, it can be hard to squeeze in your regular visits to visit your loved one, much less plan extra holiday visits. To make the festivities last longer:
• Decorate their room for the holidays early so they can enjoy the season
• Mail them a holiday card x2 weekly – mail is often the highlight of a lonely day!
• Send a weekly package of holiday goodies such as Christmas cookies, candies or fruitcakes
• Offer to do their holiday shopping for their friends or the staff
3. Choose An Appropriate Gift
It can be difficult to decide what to give someone who is in a nursing home during the holidays. Typically they have less space, and often they are coping with physical or mental limitations. NursingHome.org by the Illinois Council on Long-Term Care suggests the following gift ideas for nursing home residents:
• Stationery, note cards, greeting cards, pens, and stamps
• Lap writing desk
• Calendar for 2020 with dates marked on it for upcoming birthdays, anniversaries, etc. For birthdays, mark-down how old the person will be on that day; for anniversaries, the number of years together
• Address book with addresses written in for family and friends
• Jitterbug cell phone with large buttons
• Cardigan sweaters with large buttons, sweat suits, pajamas, and ladies’ housecoats and dusters
• Firm shoes with rubber soles; enclosed slippers
• Clocks with large numbers or verbal announcement capabilities
• CDs of a loved one’s favorite music, such as songs from the 20s, 30s and 40s
• Televisions, radios, and DVD and CD players
• DVDs of favorite TV shows from years past such as I Love Lucy, The Jack Benny Show, and All in the Family. Also, favorite movies such as Citizen Kane and The Maltese Falcon
Magazine subscriptions, such as Woman’s Day, Family Circle, Time, Sports Illustrated, Newsweek, etc. Also, large print magazines such as Reader’s Digest or a subscription to Netflix
The Illinois Council also encourages families of nursing home residents to consider “adopting” a resident at a local nursing home who has no family or friends and purchasing this person a special gift for the holiday.
Before planning your holiday nursing home celebration, consult with the nursing home staff for their recommendations and restrictions. Although this may be your family member’s new home, some nursing homes need to have strict rules regarding celebrations, especially if the facility has patients who require intensive medical care.
The holidays can be a stressful or lonely time at a nursing home. If you think your loved one is at risk in the nursing home, contact the Lombard, Illinois elder law attorneys at Estate and Probate Legal Group.