For most of us, the holidays are a time of happiness, laughter, and festivities with our friends and family. However, for some, especially residents of assisted living facilities, the holidays can be a difficult time. During the holidays, they may feel more acutely the passage of time and the absence of loved ones. In the absence of traditions and past holiday rituals, seniors may find the season to be devoid of meaning. As caregivers, there are a number of things that you can do to help make this time more enjoyable and prevent the holiday blues.
Decorating for the season can really help your residents get into the spirit. Try to involve them in the process as much as possible. Give those that are able small tasks to manage. Coordinate craft events to create their own ornaments. Encourage decorating in their personal spaces and assist them in creating a warm and special atmosphere.
Holiday music is great for setting the mood. Whether by CD, iPod, or piano, a good Christmas carol will help to create a positive and festive environment. Consider reaching out to local churches or choir groups about coming in to do a small performance for your residents. The more people spreading cheer through music the better. Many people find comfort in music and your residents will enjoy the visitors.
Help your residents to stay connected with their loved ones. Hold a holiday brunch or open house to encourage family and friends to visit with residents. If you have residents that do not have close family, offer a Skype or Facetime call with those that are not close by in order to reunite them during this festive time. You can also offer to help residents send cards to those that may be in another state. Anything that you can do to help remind your residents that they are loved is going to be of assistance.
Offer holiday favorites at meal times to induce a sense of normalcy. Pumpkin pie or Eggnog may seem like a small thing, but it could help your residents to relive those happy family get-togethers of the past. Just make sure to keep dietary restrictions in mind. Try searching for low sodium and diabetic recipes of holiday dishes. There are plenty of recipes that would allow you to offer a fresh baked treat to your resident without jeopardizing their health.
This option may not be possible for all residents. However, if they are able, taking residents to a nativity play, a holiday concert, church service, or just to look at Christmas lights may help to make them feel excited about the holiday season. If your residents cannot travel, consider having your own event to get the holiday spirits flowing. Local children’s choirs or churches may be willing to come to your facility to perform for the residents. If all else fails, you may want to put on a little performance with your staff.
Your residents just want to have a good time, feel involved and connected to others, and be reminded of why they value the holidays. Offering the things that they may have had at home will help make the season a little brighter. Bring the decorations, music, food, and people that they love to them. If you do these things, you will be able to assist your residents in having a successful holiday season and a happy start to the New Year.