Holiday visits to nursing homes can touch the heart

By Carol Higgins Taylor
Posted Dec. 23, 2010, at 2:40 p.m.

While there may be no place like home for the holidays, that’s just not reality for some people who are ill. Being in a nursing home can be a struggle anytime of year, but the holiday season can be particularly difficult.

Having a visit from loved ones is surely appreciated, but there are things you can do to kick it up a notch. Here are some suggestions to make this season a little merrier for someone in such a facility:

Children may be understandably shy, so give them a small gift that they can give to their loved one. Think about lotion, brushes, combs, framed family pictures or large-print books.

When the ice is broken, suggest that the children “interview” their elderly relatives about what life was like when they were the child’s age. Prepare questions in advance and consider recording these responses on videotape or audio-cassette. This oral history is a gift in itself.

Think about what the senior is interested in — for example, if he or she is a sports fan. Did Nana really play basketball in 1930? Have the children bring in items revolving around his or her favorite team. There is no shortage of sports-related paraphernalia. Maybe a large- print book on a favorite player is in order.

The most important thing is to be there and to let your aging loved ones know that they are cared about and still an important part of the family.

Carol Higgins Taylor is director of communications at Eastern Area Agency on Aging. printed on March 25, 2017