There truly is no place like home for the holidays, and when someone you love is in the hospital or a long-term care facility, it can be a lonely time for everyone. If home isn’t an option, there are many ways to bring joy, brighten sprits and make memories. Here are some suggestions for getting into the holiday spirit together:
Make it Festive
You’ll be surprised at how a few holiday decorations can really brighten a space. Adding a small Christmas tree, menorah, twinkly lights, or a festive blanket or pillowcase can make your loved one feel more at home. Ask friends and family to spread cheer by sending holiday cards or photos that can be displayed proudly. Just check with staff before plugging in décor items or adhering anything to the wall.
Talk it Out
If your loved is feeling sad or isolated, be sure to check in. Especially if this is a short-term situation, or the first year they aren’t in their own home. Let them know how much you’ll miss their famous apple crisp or expertise with the Christmas tree. Reminiscing about holiday traditions together will help your loved one process their feelings and offer assurance that no one is forgetting about them.
Start New Traditions
While your friend or family member may not be able to come home, an outing is a great way to raise spirits and make memories together. Depending on your loved one’s health, you may be able drive to see the lights, watch a Christmas play or dine out. If you can’t leave, send holiday cards, listen to festive tunes, decorate cookies or watch a classic holiday movie.
Bring the Party
Some care facilities or hospitals have event rooms you can use for private gatherings. This is a great way to get a group of family and friends to all visit at once and incorporate your special traditions. You may be able to bring homecooked holiday dishes, do your annual gift exchange or sing carols together as a family. If facility rules won’t permit it, or your loved one isn’t healthy enough for a party, coordinate a visiting schedule so there is lots of one-on-one time with family members.
Hospitals and assisted living homes often offer events throughout the season like holiday performances, Santa Claus visits, caroling and crafts. Encourage your loved one to join in and invite friends and family. These activities are also a great chance to meet other people in a similar situation to help your loved one feel less isolated.
It’s so important to celebrate the season and keep making memories regardless where you spend the holidays. However, expectations can be overwhelming when you are also regularly visiting and caring for someone in a hospital or care facility. Be kind to yourself, reach out for help and take breaks. Read, Caregiving During the Holidays: Less Stress, More Joy for more.