Planning a Visit? Some Important Thoughts for the Holidays
Good news! Families will now be able to visit residents of the Witherell at all times, thanks to recent guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Medicare and Medicaid. Nursing homes are now allowed to permit visits without the need for advanced scheduling or limitations on the number of visitors who can pay a call in a 24-hour time period.
The news couldn’t have come at a better time, especially for families and friends visiting from out of town for the holidays. Now, they will have the chance to see their loved ones for the first time since the beginning of the Covid pandemic.
For older adults, connecting with family members helps them maintain their sense of belonging, and is essential for their health and wellbeing.
Here are 8 surefire ways to reconnect in a meaningful way with your loved ones at the Witherell:
- Brighten up their room with some holiday decorations
Decorating for the holidays stirs up memories and nostalgic feelings and bolsters our spirits. Add festive touches to their living space by helping them decorate for the fall and winter holidays. Bring in decorations that are new or treasured, like removable window clings, floral arrangements, and an artificial garland. Just make sure these items do not present a safety hazard and don’t crowd the space. Please see the Facilities department if you have any questions about the safety of items.
- Get in the spirit with holiday traditions
Cooking and baking have always been a special part of celebrating the holidays, especially since they give us an opportunity to pass down family recipes to younger generations. Bring a homemade dish or treat that represents your holiday customs for your loved one to enjoy and share with their friends – as long as the treat doesn’t go against any of their dietary restrictions and the treats are stored according to TNW’s Clean and Clutter Free guidelines.
- Take a trip down memory lane
When an older adult expresses themselves through their past, they are communicating what was (and is) important to them. During your visit, use the past to reminisce about favorite things and people; encourage your loved one to share recollections of childhood holidays, including family customs and any memorable or funny moments. Bring photo albums, pictures, sing favorite songs; watch home videos or holiday movies on a laptop; listen to seasonal music or do crafts together.
- Express your appreciation
Expressing gratitude increases social connections and strengthens relationships. Thank your loved one for teaching you the importance of family, friendship and traditions. Let them know that they have made a difference in your life and tell them specific things that you have learned from them.
- Connect with the ones you love
Care packages and letters do wonders for seniors and are constant reminders that they remain connected to their families. They also show that someone is thinking about them. Ask family members and friends to send cards, printed photos, and children’s drawings to help keep the connection going.
- Get decked out for the holidays
Festive clothing can help seniors feel more included even when they can’t fully participate in holiday activities. And who doesn’t like new clothes? Be sure the new clothing items fit well, are comfortable, and are easy to put on and take off.
- Take time to listen
Sometimes older adults, like all of us, just need to be heard. Spend time actively listening when they want to talk, even if the discussion turns negative. Being empathetic and letting them discuss what is bothering them will allow them to process their thoughts and perhaps help resolve the issue.
- Plan for the next get-together.
Having something to look forward to in the weeks during or after the holidays provides your loved one with something pleasing to anticipate and helps them get through any difficult days.
Do keep in mind that residents, staff, and visitors are all going to have to keep their guard up to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Temperature taking, mask wearing, and other restrictions will be still be in place.
Doing what you can to help your loved one feel reconnected and included in the holidays will go a long way to lifting their spirits, improving their outlook, and feeling cared for by their family and friends. The small gestures we’ve recommended reinforce the idea that holidays can be a time of celebration, love, and hope for everyone.