November is typically the month where we stop and give thanks. This year in our community we have a Thankful Tree. Thanks to the talent and creativity of my staff members, this beautiful notion has come to life. But the real beauty that you will find are the comments that are attached to the branches of this tree. Residents and staff have given thanks for everything from health and happiness to family and friendship. So, as our hearts and minds turn to the holiday season, here are some suggestions to help you prepare for those times we treasure the most. Thinking ahead will make you thankful you did when it comes to sharing the holidays with your loved one that lives in an assisted living.
Stick to the Schedule
I have had families tell me time and time again that they were amazed that their parent was ready to go back home (to their ALF community) almost immediately after Thanksgiving or Christmas lunch or supper was over. While they were surprised, in many ways it was comforting for them. They realize that their loved one had made their community their home. I am reminded of my own Granddaddy. He was a man of routine. He didn’t vary much from his schedule. That is what I remind the families of our residents. They have the tendency in some cases to become creatures of habit. Trust me…they like a decent dose of predictability. Don’t believe me? Try canceling bingo! But just try and be as flexible as possible with their expectations. Plan ahead when it comes to medications and other necessities. If you are prepared in advance it will be more Norman Rockwell and less National Lampoons Christmas Vacation.
Don’t forget to Include Me!
Does Mom have a recipe for everyone’s favorite Caramel Cake? Does Grandpa have a story that he loves to tell? If you have ever had to suffer the loss of a loved one, you know that things like this will one day become a treasured memory. If Mom is able, include her in some of the preparation process for the meal. Or even just ask her advice. Everyone likes to feel included. Maybe you have heard Grandpa Pete’s story about his days in the war a hundred times. Maybe this year is the time to write it down. In our culture, we get so caught up in being in a hurry. Heaven knows we all can be glued to electronics. Take time to turn off and tune in to loved ones. Your conversations will be priceless to you one day.
While the holidays can be a time for sadness for some, it is best to keep conversation light. But many forget that while seniors may be older, they still like to engage. We all love looking at pictures on our social media accounts, right? Share with your elderly loved one the photos from the high school playoffs or the trip to the pumpkin patch. The pictures can be made large enough for their viewing on most devices. You may even want to let everyone in your family go around the room and tell what they are thankful for. You may find as we did with our Thankful Tree that what you hear will bless you more than you ever imagined.
Great Oaks Management communities will observe holiday meals during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. If you would like to join your loved one for a meal, call and make your reservation today.