September 27, 2012
As the familiar Perry Como song goes, “Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays.” With decorations carefully placed throughout the house, delicious smells wafting from the kitchen, and, most importantly, friends and family gathered together, the home is full of joyous traditions and memories around the holidays.
But the holidays take on a vastly different feel for an elderly loved one confined to a hospital room. In contrast to the festive sights, sounds, smells, tastes, moments and memories of home, the sterility and isolation of the hospital can breed sadness and depression.
Help your hospital-bound loved one feel the joy and meaning of the season by adapting a few favorite holiday traditions. Consult the following list of activities for inspiration.
- Let the kids unwrap a few gifts by Grandma’s bedside so she can see the joy on their faces.
- Decorate the room with holiday wreathes, garlands, strings of lights and battery-powered or plug-in candles. (Check with hospital staff before doing so.)
- Bring a photo album or scrapbook full of pictures from holidays past and reminisce with your loved one.
- Get the whole family together for a holiday sing-along in your loved one’s room.
- Listen to a recording of a religious service together.
- Play your loved one’s favorite holiday music.
- Create a sachet of fragrant dried balsam pine needles so your loved one can enjoy the Christmas tree smell.
- Bring your loved one’s favorite holiday treat to enjoy together (diet permitting).
- Watch a favorite holiday movie together, or, better yet, watch home videos of holidays passed.
- Bring a few special ornaments for your loved one to hold and discuss the memories associated with each. Even if Dad can’t be home to help decorate the tree, seeing and touching the ornaments can bring back wonderful memories.
(Tip: Check with your loved one’s nurses or doctors to know what is medically permissible in terms of activity level and diet. Also, make sure you know the best times to visit and for how long.)
Whatever activities you choose from this list or creatively come up with on your own to bring the holidays to the hospital, remember that what your loved one will appreciate most is the quality time spent together.
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