A nursing home can be a depressing place to be for the holidays. You may have an older relative who lives in a nursing home permanently or know someone who is temporarily in a facility for rehabilitation. Either way, you’ll want to do everything possible to cheer that person up for Christmas. It ties right into this admonishment in the Bible:
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. —Galatians 6:2
It will also help you feel the true warmth of the holiday spirit that only comes from blessing another person. Here are some suggestions:
Bring Christmas Movies to the Nursing Home
Christmas classics like Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a Wonderful Life are sure to bring a smile to your loved one’s face. There are plenty of more recent classics, too, like A Christmas Story and Christmas Vacation. Better yet, those two movies are comedies, and you can’t help but laugh and get in good spirits when watching them.
It’s up to you whether you want to hold a private viewing party with your loved one or whether you’ll share the fun with the other nursing home residents. If there’s a TV with a DVD player in his or her room, bring some Christmas treats like cookies and a thermos of cocoa, as well as several family members, and have a little party while you all watch one or two movies together. You can even bring some decorations and a small tree to ramp up the holiday atmosphere. Leave them behind when you go.
If there’s a DVD player in a common area and your loved one wouldn’t mind sharing the experience with friends in the nursing home, have a get-together where everyone can join in. It won’t cost much more to buy simple refreshments for everyone, and imagine how much you’ll brighten the day for so many people, even those whose own relatives might not visit them for Christmas.
Give Long-Lasting Christmas Gift
Even if you can’t be at the nursing home to see your loved one as much as you’d like throughout the year, you can give a special Christmas gift that reminds the person of how much you love him or her. Choose something like a calendar with daily inspirational sayings or a Christian affirmation book. Other options include something the person can use every day, like a decorative bedspread, cheerful wall decoration or easy-to-care-for plant.
Gifts that keep the person busy are another great choice. Older relatives who are confined to nursing homes have long hours to fill. If they’re not able to get around easily, they’re prone to boredom that’s relieved mainly by watching TV, or perhaps reading a book. Help relieve that boredom by purchasing simple craft kits.
If your loved one can’t do crafts because of arthritis, failing eyesight or another reason, then TV or reading may be all he or she can realistically do for entertainment. Bring a stack of DVDs or an iPod loaded with audiobooks.
Take Your Loved One Home
While it’s not always practical, bring your loved one home for the holidays if at all possible. Some health conditions make it difficult to do this, but even a short trip can brighten up an older family member’s holiday immeasurably. People often feel neglected and forgotten when they have to go into a nursing home. A visit to a warm, happy home atmosphere helps them feel like they’re still part of the family.
There are many ways to help a loved one in a nursing home feel special this Christmas, so be creative in coming up with your own. It doesn’t have to take a lot of effort on your part, yet doing these things will mean the world to someone who’s isolated from the family.