By Bob Gregory
The Holidays are supposed to be a joyous and happy time of the year for all, but for many they are the most stressful days of the year! Holidays are a time when friends and family come together to celebrate. We have parties, dinners, social events and gatherings that keep us busy from November through the first of the New Year. There is little time for relaxing with so much planning, preparation and entertaining, so how do you deal with a parent in a Senior Facility? The decision whether or not to bring your parent to your home for the Holidays will add a little stress with a touch of guilt and how you handle that decision will determine how high the stress and how great the guilt!
I have not found a set of hard fast rules to follow regarding bring a parent home for the Holidays, but I have encountered quite a bit of advice and several tips that you should consider:
- Is your parent healthy enough to come to your home for the Holidays? If your parent is in an Assisted Living Facility because they need some assistance with daily activities, then they may be up to a few days away and you may be able to provide the assistance they need during their stay at your home. However, if they are in a Nursing Home due to poor health, the stress of moving them for a few days may be too much for them and you may not be prepared to give them the care they need. Be sure and consult the healthcare professionals at the facility before making any decision.
- Does your parent wish to leave the facility for the Holidays? We all want to be home for the Holidays but don’t forget that your parent is at home in the facility! Most facilities have quite a few functions and activities to celebrate the Holidays and your attendance at some of these may be all your parent wishes. Be sure and ask your parent if they would like to come home with you but understand they may not. Before you discuss coming to stay at your home with your parent, consult the healthcare professionals first. This may save big disappointment if they are not well enough to leave or it is ill advised to move them.
|English: Christmas Day in a nursing home Noon on Christmas Day and the residents of Gallions View 369824 are waiting for their Christmas lunch. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
- Will your parent get ignored at your home? If you have a very active Holiday schedule, your parent may feel they are being ignored and may be lonely. Keep in mind that it can be very depressing to sit on the sidelines and watch while everyone else is busy with preparations of meals, parties and shopping that your parent may not be physically able to participate. Also, your bedtime schedule is probably a lot different than your parent’s and that may limit their participation in the festivities. Take the time to evaluate how much time you can spend with your parent if they are at your home—it may be less than you think!
- Are you prepared to stop your celebrating to return your parent to the Senior Facility? The thought of coming to your home for the Holidays may be very exciting and it may be something your parent wishes to do. However, don’t be surprised if they decide they want to go back to their ”home” shortly after arriving at yours! Even though you are family and you are prepared to give the best care, it is still a big change from their normal routine and it can be quite upsetting. Most facilities keep very tight schedules and we all know schedules go out the door during Holidays. The new environment may be too much and you need to be prepared to take your parent back to the facility if they wish to leave. If you’ve traveled a long distance to get your parent, this can be a challenge and you can bet they will want to leave at the most inopportune time—be patient!
If you have given careful thought to the above considerations as well as many others you may think of yourself, you may be ready to have your parent home for the Holidays!
If you decide it’s best for your parent to remain in their senior facility, here are a couple of tips to make the Holidays more joyous for both of you.
- Visit, visit, visit! If you live close to your parent, then schedule as many visits as possible during the Holidays. Be sure and get a copy of the activities calendar for the facility and schedule to attend as many Holiday events as possible. . Be sure and share your Holiday schedule with your parent so they will know when to expect you. If you live far away, then make an effort to call more often.
- Share stories and pictures of the celebrations you are attending or are hosting. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your parent will feel depressed to hear about the good time you are having during the Holidays. You will find that your parent will be very excited to see pictures and hear stories about your parties and celebrations. Encourage them to tell you stories of the parties and events they have attended at the facility and be sure and spend some time reminiscing about the Holidays when everyone was together.
- Gifts, goodies and cards. Holidays are definitely a time for sharing so drop off gifts, goodies and Holiday cards as often as possible or send small packages as often as possible if you don’t live close by. Being remembered by a loved one brings warmth and feelings of love. It also gives your parent a reason to socialize with other residents to share goodies and show cards and gifts. You don’t have to spend a lot of money because small packages bring great joy! Make sure your parent can enjoy the goodies you send and be sure to send enough to share. If you enjoy cooking, send homemade goodies and include a short note about why that goody is special—old family recipe, big hit at your Holiday party or just wanted to try something new.
- Friends and family. You probably have other family members who can participate in all of the above and you should encourage them to do so! Request family members to accompany you on visits and bring as many different members at different times as you possibly can. Offer to take friends of your parent by for a quick visit if they are able to attend such an outing. It will be beneficial to both the friend and your parent.
- Be happy and joyous! Be sure and set the tone for your visits and communications with your parent by being happy and joyous—it’s contagious. Pass on good news and avoid complaining.
I hope some these ideas and tips will make this Holiday season a little less stressful and much more enjoyable with your parent or loved one that resides in a Senior Facility. Stay positive and don’t set expectations that you can’t possibly achieve!
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Bob Gregory is an advocate for Seniors and is one of the founders of www.seniorfacilityfinder.com. At SeniorFacilityFinder.com, we are dedicated to helping families get the Elder Care help they need without having to provide their personal information! If you find you need an Assisted Living Facility or other type of senior facility, please consider www.seniorfacilityfinder.com.