Try to include your residents in the holiday festivities in some way. Investing in your loved one can be key to a happier holiday for both you and your loved one. Here are some ideas:
Visits from family and friends are always welcomed around the holidays. It can help their day go a little faster and make it a little more special because of the visit from you.
Many treasure visits with children and grandchildren as well. Children, adequately chaperoned, can be a real source of enjoyment and happiness for an older adult.
Spirituality and the Holidays
Getting your loved one in touch with their spirituality during the holidays can be especially helpful as
well. The holidays are a time when many older adults reminisce of days gone by. While this is usually a pleasant experience, it can be a little sad because of the many losses we experience by the time we are older adults. A resident’s spirituality can be a comfort and a source of strength for them during the holiday season. Getting your loved one in touch with a counselor or person from the clergy can be helpful in addressing the loneliness and spiritual concerns that they may have in their lives. Most nursing homes are good at having an area priest or pastor available to visit with residents. Speaking with the nursing home social worker or administrator and setting up a visit for your loved one can be a source of personal strength and encouragement for them during the holidays.
The Importance of Involvement
Try to get your loved one involved in a project that allows them to reach out to someone else. Most residents love to be productive and involved in other people’s lives. You never lose the urge to make a difference to someone less fortunate than yourself. There are all types of projects that older adults can get involved in.
- Making holiday cards is one activity that does not require a lot of energy and can be done at a resident’s leisure, when they are feeling up to it. They can either make cards for their friends and family or they can make cards for other people in the community who could use a friendly reminder that they are being thought of.
- Create a "Holiday Diary" with the assistance of a family member or friend. Have the resident document a holiday remembrance so that it can be saved as a keepsake. For this project, the loved one recalls a special holiday memory, a story, a gift received and/ or given or special holiday song that meant so much to him or her. The resident can have a diary entry for each of the Twelve Days of Christmas, or the Eight Days of Hanukkah. This is a great way to find out about holiday traditions and special times that happened long ago. Keeping a written journal of these special moments can be a treasure in years to come.
Bonnie Camp, a certified volunteer advocate with the Office of the Ombudsman for the Institutionalized Elderly and a hospice volunteer, received her MSW and Gerontology Certificate in 2011 from Rutgers University School of Social Work. She graduated from Stockton State College with a Bachelor’s degree in social work and minors in gerontology and writing. She is currently employed as a nephrology social worker with South Jersey Healthcare at dialysis units in Bridgeton and Millville.