The holiday spirit starts to creep into our consciousness a little bit earlier as each year passes. Radio stations begin to play Christmas tunes on November 1, super store aisles quickly pull ghosts and goblins to replace them with red and green trimmings, and those who never took down the twinkle lights from their eaves last December breathe a sigh of relief that they still won’t have to. And yet while the holidays stalk us months ahead, instead of giving us more time to conquer all of the family traditions and shopping lists, we are busier than ever before. I also feel like all those gift guides that come out around this time of year help find something for our special mom, dad, our tech hungry child or even our pets. Though, what about a loved one in a nursing home?
So while we still have just over a week before the actual days of celebration, I’d like to propose that we take a deep breath and brainstorm how we can honor our loved ones who will be spending the holidays in a nursing home. Here is our stab at our OpenPlacement 2014 gift guide for a loved one in a nursing home.
Twelve Days of Christmas – How about sending a card or trinket a day to your loved one based on the popular “Twelve Days of Christmas” song? If you have kids, you can Photoshop their faces onto a variety of graphics that come up when you search for images using a Yahoo! or Google search engine. This is great because they can expect a special surprise for 12 days instead of just one.
Deck the Halls – Who doesn’t love Christmas decorations?!?! Depending on the nursing home’s rules, bring in garland, a tiny Christmas tree, and lights on a timer. Set up an iPod or radio that plays Christmas music. Find a festive plush red or hunter green blanket to put on the end of the bed. There are also a ton of great Christmas socks that can bring some cheer to your mom or grandmother.
Making a List – With limited space, what types of gifts should you give a loved one who is staying in a nursing home?
It’s the thought that counts - Puzzles are small, cheap, and fun little activities. Slipper socks are easy to find and have rubber traction on the bottom to avoid the risk of slipping. A Kindle or Nook can hold countless books (and preload them with your loved one’s favorites.)
Say Cheese – Digital picture frames are perfect for a small living space. Upload favorite pictures and snapshots of the family. The rotating images are much more convenient than a ton of frames cluttering up a small dresser or night stand. You might also want to make two: one of just Christmases past to celebrate the holidays and one to put up for the rest of the year.
Piece by Piece – There are so many great websites out there to help you make a customized gift that everyone in the family can contribute to. You might want to make a throw blanket with family pictures silk screened on it or have each person design a fabric square to make a quilt. Photobooks are also popular and easy to design using websites like Tiny Prints or Shutterfly. How about having each family member write a page about a favorite family memory, quote from Grandma, or reason why they love Grandma? You can put it in a binder or make a scrapbook that your loved one can read throughout the year.
Christmas Morning – I know that Christmas Day is busy. There are gifts to open, mountains of gift wrap to toss, a feast to prepare, and the inevitable crash of overexcited kids. However, visiting December 23 is just not the same as visiting on Christmas Day (or whichever day you traditionally have celebrated as a family). If you need a simpler menu or if the mess needs to sit for a little while longer, so be it. The holidays have the dichotomy of being the happiest time of the year and the time with the most melancholy. An hour of your time is worth more than any gift you can give.
Far and Away – So what do you do if you live too far to visit your loved one during the holidays? At the very least call, but you might want to check with the nursing home to see if you can send a video message that they can play for your parent. Also, call to see what the nursing home staff has planned for that day. Maybe you can send a care package with Christmas CD’s, movies, cookies, and chocolates that could be a sort of “party in a box.” Time, thought, and love are the best gifts of all!
Do you have any special things you do for a loved one in a nursing home? Please do share with our community on how you honor your loved ones who will be spending the holidays in a nursing home below in the comments section.
And finally...happy holidays from the OpenPlacement team!