Share Holiday Magic With A Loved One In Skilled Nursing
The holidays are a time for families to come together and celebrate. But what about when a grandparent or parent has transitioned to a skilled nursing facility? When the dynamic changes, those cherished family traditions will change, too. But with planning and thought, and with the help of skilled nursing support teams, the elderly can still share in the magic of the holidays.
We recently spoke with Justine Vaccaro, LMSW, director of social work for the Nathaniel Witherell, about how to make the holidays special for skilled nursing residents. From celebrations and gifts to using technology to connect, here’s her advice:
Some families prefer to bring their loved one home for the holidays, and may hire a private aide or arrange for an ambulette. It’s best to plan in advance for this because, like most services over the holidays, people book early.
“Be realistic about the safety and comfort of your loved one when considering this option. Many nursing home residents are too frail or infirmed to leave,” says Vaccaro. “Some may be upset that they can’t attend the family gathering. We’ll work with families in advance to help ease those concerns and find ways to help their loved one be more involved.”
Celebrate in Place
Many elderly residents prefer to celebrate the holidays in place, whether they are able to travel or not. They like to be around the friends they’ve made, and they prefer the familiarity of the place they now call home.
“At the Witherell, December is a very festive month and families (and pets) are always welcome. In addition to our huge holiday party, the calendar is filled with visits from school choirs, musical performances, a Hanukkah celebration, and religious services,” notes Vaccaro.” If your loved one wants to celebrate in place, support their decision and join them at the many events offered.”
Make it Magical
If you have a special family recipe, make a batch and bring it to share (check with the staff first). Involve grandchildren in making home made ornaments to add to the Christmas trees that adorn every floor.
“For gifts, we recommend things that are thoughtful and practical. Lap blankets, crossword puzzles, word search puzzles, and cardigans are popular. It’s also nice when you can provide a gift that connects to a favorite hobby, like knitting or reading,” suggests Vaccaro. “For residents that don’t have family, we have several organizations that donate wonderful gifts so that everyone has a package to open on their holiday.”
Connect Via Tech
Technology is a great tool to help the elderly be part of the family celebration.
“We’ll arrange Skype calls, or we can Face Time family members that are far away,” notes Vaccaro. “Seeing those familiar happy faces and having the opportunity to have a chat is a great way to lift spirits and share holiday cheer.”