How to Make the Holidays Special with Your In-Home Healthcare Patients
December 01 2018
How to Create Meaningful Holiday Moments with Your Patients
For many, the holiday season is a special time that we spend with family and friends. But for someone who is ill or nearing the end of their life, the holidays can be bittersweet. It can be hard for them to enjoy the season when it can bring up old memories and feelings of loneliness and loss.
But living life means taking time to celebrate. While we are still living, we should never fail to celebrate what makes life so special. This is why it is so important to help your in-home healthcare patients celebrate the holidays.
As an in-home healthcare worker, you have the opportunity to make the holidays more enjoyable and special for your patients. It might seem like a daunting task to lift someone’s spirits at such a time, but by following these tips, you’ll be able to make the holidays merry and bright for your patients.
Have a Conversation
Ask your patients about their holiday traditions or special memories they have. Ask about the decorations they put up, the food they ate or what special family traditions they have.
If your patient seems unwilling to talk about those memories, start by sharing some of your own. This can help to ease the patient into the conversation, making them feel happy and safe enough to perhaps share their own memories. But do not pressure your patient to share more than they wish to. Respect their choice.
If your patient is unable to speak, ask their family what you can do that would make the holiday special for their loved one.
Be sure to also help your patient process the changes from last year and to talk about what they will be missing this year. Again, don’t pressure them to share more than they are comfortable, but helping them to work through those changes and accept them can lead to healing and greater happiness in the moment.
Knowledge is Key
Once you know what would make the holiday season special for your patient, use that knowledge. Decorate the house, make cookies or latkes, make a popcorn string for the tree or put on some favorite festive music, sing carols—whatever it is that would help your patients to enjoy the holiday season. Share those moments with your patient as if they were your family and make them feel special. Continue your conversation of reminiscing on special holiday memories with your loved ones.
Take Special Care
If your patient has Dementia or Alzheimer’s, keep things simple but familiar. Play favorite holiday tunes and if there are people coming to visit them, show them pictures and talk about those who are coming to visit. Dementia can also create some other special circumstances. Holiday season can be hectic and noisy, especially if they have family visiting, leaving your patient feeling overwhelmed. Have a quiet room if things get too hectic for them. Remember that someone should stay with them in the room so they do not feel isolated. Also remember to prepare distractions beforehand to divert problematic behaviors if they occur.
But They Don’t Know The Difference
For those who are very ill or have Dementia, they may not know the difference. However, don’t let that stop you from making the season special for your patient. You never know how much your patient may understand so make their home festive. For those with Dementia, they have moments of lucidity and in those moments, they will appreciate what you have done for them.
Help them Feel Connected
Consider helping your patient write and send holiday greeting cards or presents. Help them make a phone call to loved ones who are far away and cannot visit during the holidays. Pull out old photo albums and look back at past holiday seasons with them to help them feel connected to their loved ones, perhaps even those who have passed.
The holiday season can be a lonely time for some of your patients. For seniors, it can cause mixed feelings and may remind them of loved ones they’ve lost. Colder weather can also added pain and/or depression and feelings of isolation. Engaging in conversation is the best way to keep your patient from feeling lonely or abandoned. Helping them connect with family and friends can also help. Help to schedule visits or calls.
Food for Thought
The holidays are generally centered around festive food and family feasts. Consider helping your patient prepare and/or enjoy a meal that is part of their family tradition. But also make sure that your patient maintains a healthy diet during the holidays. If they are on a special diet, encourage them to maintain that diet through the holiday season.
As a caregiver, you make the lives of your patients better each and every day, but especially during the holidays. By sharing traditions and then doing festive things together, you can create meaningful moments for your patient that they will cherish and appreciate.