4 ways to celebrate the holidays when your loved one is in a nursing home
When a loved one is in a nursing home, he or she can feel loved and supported during the holidays by decorating, sharing memories, continuing family traditions, and celebrating with family and friends.
Holidays are all about family, friends, and celebrating the spirit of the season. From the Christmas trees decorated with homemade ornaments to a crackling fireplace casting its warm glow over a peaceful night, the idyllic images of the season center on home. When a loved one is in a nursing home, making it feel like “home” is the top priority of residents and their families. Here are few ways to make the season extra bright.
Decorate with old favorites
Nothing brings back good memories more than a holiday ornament or decoration. As you display each item in your loved one’s room, it will give you the chance to reminisce and share some tangible memories. Do you still have that olive wood Nativity you displayed as a kid? Bring it. Is the old potholder you made in second grade still in the kitchen drawer? It will be a treasured memento. Old favorites are best — if you try to decorate with newer items, your loved one might find the change disconcerting.
Bring out the photo books
If your loved one has Alzheimer’s or other dementia, he or she may be easily confused. But in many cases, it is only the short-term memory that is affected. Many people can remember all kinds of stories and experiences from the past. Looking at old holiday pictures together can be the catalyst for a beautiful connection.
Write holiday cards together
For many families, sending holiday cards is a priceless family tradition. If your loved one is able, have him or her share in the tradition by participating in the holiday photo and helping you write, label and send cards. Nothing will help your loved one feel more connected to family and friends than seeing the cards they receive displayed prominently in the room.
Go to the holiday party
In any good nursing home, such as the five-star facilities serviced by North American Health Care, you’ll have a lot of help getting into the holiday spirit. The activities directors take special care to ensure that everyone feels loved and celebrated, especially during the season. Directors plan parties, facilitate game nights and host special performances from community groups to help make the season warm and bright. Join your loved one whenever you can, and continue to share experiences that you and your loved can enjoy in the present moment. That is what counts at any stage.
During the holiday season, your loved one can feel loved and supported just like at home by decorating, sharing memories, continuing family traditions and celebrating together. After all, the holidays are about sharing love with family and friends, no matter where the location.
Dr. Amy Osmond Cook received her Ph.D. from the University of Utah in Communication. She is Dir. of Provider Relations at North American Health Care and taught writing, communication, and marketing classes at ASU, BYU, and Univ of Utah.