As we prepare to give thanks and gather around the table…I remember. I remember that it was just last Thanksgiving that we experienced a “first” in our community. It was the first time that all 16 of our residents were out with family at the EXACT same time. It was a strange feeling for the folks that were working that day. I remember them calling to tell me about it. Oh, there is always plenty to be done and the staff was happy for the residents to be spending quality time with family and loved ones. It was just a new first for our community. What about you? Is this the first year that you will be planning Thanksgiving after having moved a loved one into an assisted living? Are you concerned with all the preparation and worried about the visit? Here are a few tips to help you stress less and enjoy Thanksgiving with your elderly loved ones.
Schedules and Timing
As much as you don’t want to plan out every little detail, you do want to give it some thought. Remember that if they are residing in an assisted living they may now be accustomed to a more structured routine. You will want to check with the staff regarding medications and proper protocol. You want to be sure to keep everything on track.
Food and Options
Our residents live very active and independent lifestyles. They enjoy making their own choices and directing their care. But it is important to consider their dietary needs. Be mindful of food options. Remember if Mom doesn’t need the extra salt or Dad needs alternative dessert options.
One of the most common comments I hear from families is that they are shocked when not long after eating ….the elderly loved one is ready to go back to their community (new home). Now naturally this makes an administrator very happy that a resident has come to feel comfortable in their community. But don’t let it make you feel down. Remember they have gotten on their own time schedule. They are enjoying your company, but like many people after a gathering may need some rest.
As with all time together…just enjoy. Make it special but don’t put too much pressure on your family member or yourself (for that matter) to meet unrealistic expectations. Incorporate them into the conversation. Maybe call ahead of time and get their special recipe for a favorite dish. Spend time talking, relating and making treasured memories. Savor these moments together and you ALL will come away from the gathering feeling grateful.