The holiday season can be a tricky time to navigate when you have a loved one in an assisted living community. For a variety of reasons, it’s not always possible to visit with him or her in person, which could make the holidays a lonely time. However, there are ways to make loved ones feel included in family traditions right where they are. Ready to spread some Christmas cheer? Here are five fun and simple ways to celebrate with a loved one who is spending the holidays in assisted living.
Don’t want your loved one to miss out on the magic of a home decorated for the holidays? Send a bit of holiday cheer with a box of decorations. Pack and mail a box with easy-to-put-up decorations that your loved one can put out (with assistance, if necessary) in their apartment. Some easy ideas include a mini Christmas tree, lights, tinsel, ornaments and a stocking. Choose items that are easy to set up and won’t break during shipping. It’s also a nice touch to include anything they will need to hang decorations, such as push pins or command hooks.
Online video platforms (such as Teleparty) have made it easier than ever for people to watch a movie together across the miles. Set up a virtual holiday movie night with your loved one spending the holidays in assisted living to enjoy some holiday classics together. It’s a good idea to call ahead and make sure that a staff member can help them get everything set up, if necessary. If you’re feeling extra festive, send a box of popcorn, candy canes, hot chocolate and other favorite holiday treats they can enjoy during the movie.
Most assisted living centers host an array of festive events during the holiday season. Whether your loved one is more introverted or is a social butterfly, everyone can benefit from connecting with others. Staff members can be helpful in encouraging connection. Call the director at their community and ask what types of events are happening. (Keep in mind that these types of gatherings may be limited or modified this year, due to COVID-19.) Encourage your loved one to attend these special events.
Just because your loved one is spending the holidays in assisted living, it doesn’t mean they can’t be part of your family’s favorite traditions. Set reminders on your phone to call or video call them during significant seasonal highlights. These will differ from family to family based on traditions and favorite activities. If you think it would be helpful, let your loved one know a few days in advance that you will be calling at a certain time. Activities to include your loved one in include decorating the tree, wrapping presents, going to look at neighborhood lights, a grandchild’s holiday performances, and of course, unwrapping gifts on Christmas morning.
It’s always a good idea to talk openly with your loved one about how they are feeling. Ask how they’re doing and what they are most looking forward to during the holiday season. Make sure they know that they will be missed at Christmas dinner. Remind them (repeatedly, if necessary) of the ways you plan to include them. Having this conversation before the holidays begin can help dispel some of the loneliness they may be feeling and give them something to look forward to.
With modern technology, there are a number of great ways to connect with your loved one who is in assisted living—or anywhere that you can’t join them. (Call ahead and ask the staff to help, if needed.) Even if you cannot visit them in person, remind them that you are thinking of them all season long. Help them to experience the joy of the season, whether it’s enjoying a favorite holiday treat or watching the kids open presents on Christmas morning. The key is to make plans early and put it on the calendar. With a little effort, and a lot of creativity, your loved one can have a Christmas season that is merry and bright, even from across the miles.
At Advent Christian Village, we believe it’s important to meet each person where they are and provide the care they need. That’s why assisted living is an important part of the continuum of care we provide. Have questions about assisted living or other options available at ACV? We would love to speak with you. Give us a call today at (800) 467-3353 to learn more or schedule a tour.