Holidays are among the most challenging times for dealing with a loved one or family member who is confined to a nursing home. My Mom is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and could no longer care for herself alone. Mom would forget to take her meds, or double up on her medication or take one over the counter medication for something, then take something to counteract the first medication.
It was a very difficult decision for my two sisters and I to make, but the doctors stressed that Mom could not be alone and none of us or our spouses could take off from our jobs forever to care for Mom.
She seems to be adjusting well. One of us goes to pick her up for Mothers day or her birthday, which falls on July the 4th. We recently took her to her family reunion since as long as she is supervised Mom is allowed to leave the nursing home for a few hours at a time.
A couple of weeks ago, at the urging of the activities director at the nursing home, Mom, who is shy and had to be prodded I’m sure, entered a beauty contest at her nursing home.
Here are ten tips for celebrating Christmas with a family member in a nursing home.
1. Put up a few small decorations in their living quarters. There are even little Christmas trees that would not take up much space.
2. Visit them often during Christmas season as this is the most depressing time of year for many people, let alone someone trying to celebrate Christmas in a nursing home.
3. Take the family member a Christmas card and maybe a stocking stuffer type gift to cheer them up. Being in a nursing home after years of living independently has to be hard. Celebrating a Holiday, especially Christmas in a nursing home has to be doubly hard.
4. If your loved one is celebrating their first Christmas in a nursing home like my Mom, assure them that you love them and are thinking of them at Christmas, especially.
5. Try to greet any other nursing home patrons in the room or near your family member and give them a little Holiday cheer. Like anything else, Christmas spirit is contagious. If you brighten their day even a little it might just make them more cheerful toward your loved one and anyone else who they encounter.
6. Be courteous and cheerful with the staff at the nursing home. See #5. These are the people in charge of caring for your loved one. Spreading a little Christmas cheer can go a long way toward celebrating Christmas in a nursing home for all.
7. If your loved one is able to leave the nursing home like Mom, assure them that they will have a Christmas to celebrate and tell them who will be there and what sort of celebration they can expect.
8. When it comes to celebrating Christmas in a nursing home, try to make Christmas seem as normal for them as possible. Change is harder the older a person gets. Be positive and act as though Christmas is pretty much the same for them.
9. If you know of anyone who sings or entertains in such a setting such as a puppet show or the like, try to get them to visit your loved one’s nursing home as part of the Christmas celebration. The daily routine could get tiresome and this would let them know it’s Christmas and not just another day.
10. Lastly, think of any old Christmases from the past that were especially good and remind your loved one of the good times without being maudlin. Keep them updated on goings on in your life and maybe share some pictures or other memories of Christmas. A Christmas celebration in a nursing home doesn’t have to be a downer. Be thankful if your loved one still knows who everyone is and is still around to celebrate Christmas, whether in a nursing home or whatever.