Have you visited a nursing home at Christmas time? It can be as magical as watching little children light up when they see twinkling lights, pretty packages, Santa Claus, hear Christmas music and smell cinnamon, ginger and pine.
Nursing home patients vary in the levels of care they require so you will find there are some seniors who are quite cognitive, lively and actively involved in many activities and social interaction. There are also many patients that have some interaction and activity, but may not be constantly able to maintain that level of activity.
Then there are some patients that require much more care, may be bedridden or wheel chair bound. These need social stimulation to come to them as they are quite unable to reach out for it.
At Christmas time there are many sights and sounds that can stimulate these much less active seniors, but they still want to feel a part of many seasonal rituals and know they are as remembered and valued as when they were able to willingly join in.
If possible, a more active senior should be matched with one requiring a little more care, if it is practical given the care needs. For instance, one can hold a song book for both to sing from, or one can help the other with bingo. In addition to helping the one, the other can feel valuable by being needed.
For obvious reasons most care givers are younger than the seniors they care for and when a peer can be a companion for even short periods of time, this can help alleviate a sense of loneliness or isolation now and then. Pairs can participate in gift exchanges, crafts together, games and many other activities.
During the holidays the staff of nursing homes are usually busy with many activities to make the homes feel festive and happy. Laughter can be heard down many hallways and in activity rooms. Christmas music may be playing from a CD or radio in a few different rooms and someone, maybe even a guest or hired musician, may be playing 'Silent Night' or 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town' in one of the recreation or activity rooms where seniors are joining in a sing along.
Every Christmas party at a nursing home is different from the next. But all provide a festive flavour of cheer for the staff, seniors and their family and friends. You'll hear that jolly music, see wonderful crafts made by all the seniors decorating the rooms, hallways, lounges and recreation areas. The smells that fill the air are all the teas, ciders, pies, and cookies along side warm dishes of potatoes, turkey, and stuffing.
A Nursing Home at Christmas time is always fun, with performers or sing alongs, and you'll see seniors laughing, smiling, sharing and enjoying the company of their family and friends and appreciating the care they receive from all of the nursing home staff.
Sandra L. White is a contributing writer to Nursing Home Activities Resource, offering information about activities for the elderly and information about Nursing Homes and other Assisted Living Facilities. Visit our website for activities and more about a Nursing Home at Christmas Time.