happy holiday

Loved One in a Nursing Home? How to Ensure a Safe and Happy Holiday Season

by Andrus Becki

The holidays are the long-awaited time of year to celebrate and show our friends and family that we love them. If you have a loved one that resides in a nursing home or other care facility, you want to do all you can to make sure they have a happy holiday as well.

Even though your parent, grandparent, or friend cannot participate in all the usual holiday activities, there is so much that you can do to help them feel a part of your celebrations while ensuring they stay safe.

Come up with a few of your own ideas to celebrate, and while you’re doing so, here are a few of ours.

Celebrate the Holidays – Don’t Ignore Them

Your loved one may be anxious about celebrating the holidays away from home, especially if it is their first time being away during such a critical time. It is important to make sure to acknowledge the holidays and talk to them about their thoughts concerning their being in another place during this normally fun, family-centered time.

Being understanding and not just ignoring the situation will go a long way in calming the anxieties of your loved one. When you really understand what things are making them sad or anxious, you can better alleviate those fears and do specific things to ease the changes they are experiencing.

If your loved one doesn’t want to talk about it, though, follow their lead. Just don’t pretend the holidays and celebrations around them are not happening.

You Can Still Decorate!

Bringing some familiar and even new decorations to the nursing home can be exciting and something out of the ordinary, just like it is for those of us outside of these facilities. Even a Christmas tree can be a part of your decorating plans but make sure it is artificial, so it is low maintenance and not a fire hazard. Enjoy shatterproof decorations, especially on the tree.

Avoid bringing in candles or other things that could cause a fire. Battery-operated candles are an option and still create the warmth and cozy atmosphere you’re going for. A beautifully festive bedspread and pillows can even be fun!

Be careful with extension cords as well. These can easily cause someone that isn’t so stable on their feet to fall and trip. Even those of us that are steady on our feet seem to stumble on cords like these.

Include Your Loved Ones in Your Holiday Shopping Plans

Your loved one may be able to do some shopping with you either in person while in a wheelchair or online in the comfort of their room. If happy holiday shopping has been a favorite pastime, include them as much as you can. Ask your loved one if there are gifts they would like you to pick up for them so that they can continue to be a part of the gift-giving tradition too.

Visit if Possible

Although the COVID-19 pandemic is not the best time for several visitors, those who can safely visit should be encouraged to do so. There’s nothing most people in care centers miss more than the ability to see their family and friends more often. The more visitors your loved one can have, the more it will still feel like the happy holidays they are used to.

If you cannot visit at least once a week, organize someone else to come and stop by so your loved one doesn’t get too lonely, especially during the holidays. Having a fun visitor to look forward to can make all the difference. Check with the care center to find out about updated policies and visiting rules to be sure what is allowed beforehand.

Send Holiday Cards

Even if you don’t usually send out holiday cards to friends and family, make it a point to send one to your loved ones in care facilities. Please encourage others to send them too by emailing or texting them the address that they should mail them to so that it is simple and easy to do so. It will be so much fun for your loved ones to get mail from their favorite people all month long!

Share Your Traditional Holiday Meal Together

Whether it’s turkey and stuffing or soup with dumplings, make sure to include your family member in the festivities. If you can bring them home for a family dinner, that can be exciting. But it’s not always an option. Bringing leftovers and visiting while they eat can be another alternative that will still be fun and boost that happy holiday cheer.

Include Your Loved One In Happy Holiday Events

If it’s safe to do so, invite your loved one to holiday activities such as their grandchild’s choir concert or to take a drive to see beautiful holiday lights while grabbing a treat at your favorite drive-through. There are many ways to bring the Christmas spirit without too much trouble.

Know What Kinds of Gifts Would Be Appropriate

It’s tough to know what to bring someone living in a care center for the holidays. Space is often extremely limited, so choosing an appropriate gift is essential. There are many fun ideas surrounding the holidays. Some ideas can include:

  • A new blanket
  • Pajamas
  • Warm socks
  • Holiday goodies
  • A book or magazine subscription
  • A DVD
  • A game or puzzle
  • Framed photos of friends or family
  • Flowers
  • Lotion

Think of a gift you would like to receive, and write a note explaining why it is your favorite.

Keep Your Loved Ones and Yourself Safe

No matter the circumstances, it’s important to pay special attention to safety and take whatever precautions you need to so that everyone can have a happy holiday. However, if something does arise, the compassionate attorneys at Wormington & Bollinger can help. We pride ourselves on the caring work we do for families of all kinds, including those with loved ones in care facilities. Contact us to learn more about how we can assist you and your family today.