An unexpected illness or surgery that results in an extended care stay during the holidays can make anyone want to say, “Bah Humbug.”
As your parent ages, the holidays often become exceedingly important as it may be one of the few times—or the only time—all the children and grandchildren come together in one place. It’s a time for your dad or mom to hear and celebrate the accomplishments of his or her children and grandchildren, to reminisce about memories from the past and to just feel pride and joy in the life he or she has built.
The last place your mother or father wants to be during this time of year is in recovery for an illness or in rehabilitation from a surgery. Even so, you know it’s a must. You and your family realize a skilled nursing center or skilled rehab center has the trained expert staff and professional equipment needed to ensure a comfortable and speedy healing process for your parent.
The best thing you can do is not feel guilty or fret about something out of your control. Focus on what you can control, which is bringing joy to your parent no matter where they spend the holidays.
Helping Your Parent Stay Joyful During the Holidays When in Skilled Care
It’s normal to feel anxious and maybe even apprehensive about visiting your parent during the holidays in a skilled nursing home, especially if your parent is not feeling 100 percent and you know his or her mood is a lot like Scrooge. Make this your opportunity to give back to your parent.
Encourage your parent to participate in the holiday activities and celebrations at the center. Staying cooped up in a room can actually slow the healing process by causing emotional strain. Research shows staying socially connected is important in warding off depression and loneliness.
Try some of the following ideas to help your parent stay joyful while recovering in skilled nursing care during the holidays:
- Write out Christmas cards or Happy New Year cards together.
- Add holiday decorations to the room. Hang a favorite Christmas stocking or ornament or display that silly dancing Santa figurine your dad just loves.
- Bring mom or dad something festive to wear—a favorite holiday sweater, cozy socks or favorite Christmas tie.
- Bring in a favorite holiday treat. Share with staff, and allow your parent to reminisce about a favorite Christmas cookie recipe or special holiday tradition.
- Bring in photos or a digital slideshow on your tablet to share during the visit.
- Pass along the mailing address of the skilled nursing center to family and friends so they can send holiday cards to the room.
- Ask your parent’s religious leader to visit. He or she may not realize your parent is in recovery during the holidays.
- Organize a volunteer activity, such as having your granddaughter and friends visit and sing Christmas carols to your parent and others in the center.
- Encourage and set a schedule for other family members to visit or accompany you on your visits.
- Offer to drive your parent’s friends for a visit.
The worst thing you can do is stay away because you fear a negative experience. Your presence and positive energy are more likely to help diminish negative sentiments.
Another thing to keep in mind is to prepare early for the transition from hospital to skilled nursing care. Select a skilled nursing center that you trust and where your parent can immediately feel comfortable.
Rehabilitation and Recovering at Maine Veterans’ Home
Whether for skilled nursing care or rehabilitative services, our team of healthcare professionals at Maine Veterans’ Home works together to develop a customized care plan based on your parent’s needs.
Our six locations throughout Maine each welcome our honored veterans. Along with providing their care, we are also veterans’ advocates. We’re committed 24/7 to Maine’s veterans and their families, and we encourage you to contact us with any questions or for additional support in caring for your parent.
Contact Maine Veterans’ Homes online or give us a call at 800-278-9494.
Maine Veterans' Homes is an independent nonprofit organization serving Maine's veterans and families.