If the person you are caring for is spending the holidays away from home, you may be feeling unsure of how to include them in your family’s traditions. However, it is possible, with some flexibility, for people who are residing in assisted-living facilities or staying in the hospital to take part in the holidays. You can still celebrate, make memories, and enjoy time together. Here are some ideas that may help to bring the comforts of home to the person in your care:
- You can involve extended family and friends who are unable to visit by asking them to write well wishes, updates on life events, or just a few words letting the person know they are thinking about them. You can collect and share these, and maybe create a display or board with these well wishes.
- You may also decide to display photos or artwork in their room. This is also an opportunity to involve children by having them colour or draw images. Older children may choose to collect photos and craft a collage or scrapbook page
- Another way to bring the comforts of home is by making a playlist of music the person enjoys and playing the music for them. You can even download podcasts or radio shows for the person. Perhaps even bring in a DVD or VHS (remember those?!) for the person to watch. You may even want to bring a pair of headphones if the person has a roommate or you are tempted to take the roof off spreading festive music or messages!
- You can also inquire about whether there is a larger room that can accommodate a group of people and provide for some privacy. Some assisted-living facilities have rooms available for this purpose. It’s a good idea to ask the staff about whether this is available or if a reservation is required.
- Some assisted-living facilities will also allow for pets to be brought in. You can check with staff about whether this is possible and whether there are any restrictions (for example, dogs must be on leashes). There may also be organizations who can bring in animals who are trained for therapeutic purposes such as visits to hospitals or assisted-living facilities. Pets have a way of bringing smiles to people’s faces, and are sometimes better at it than humans (no offence intended towards us humans of course!)
- It may also be possible for the person to enjoy traditional meals and home-cooked food. The medical staff will be able to tell you whether you can bring in food from home or whether there are any issues or restrictions with food/liquid texture, or food allergies/sensitivities of nearby roomates, staff, or residents.
- For some, the holidays center around faith and religion. The hospital or assisted-living facility may have a prayer room available for use. You may also choose to inquire about the possibility of a private, quiet area where the person, and perhaps some friends and family, can pray or observe their faith together. There may also be a spiritual advisor who can come to the person’s bedside. Or, perhaps a spiritual leader known to the person would be willing to visit them.
Despite being away from home, it is possible (with some creativity and imagination!) to bring some of the comforts of home over the holidays.