Every year, people look forward to celebrating the holidays with their loved ones. Many families carry on traditions that are special to them. Families that have a loved one living in a nursing center may be concerned about keeping those traditions alive. Providers can show families how they can carry on their family traditions with their loved ones at the facility. Families can:

•    Create a scrapbook of memories. Often times, the hardest part of living in a nursing center is being without family. Making a scrapbook for loved ones provides them with happy memories to recall upon when times are difficult. Include pictures from previous holiday celebrations. Record favorite stories for loved ones to talk about as they read through the scrapbook. This is a gift that keeps on giving, and one they can continue to look at for holidays to come.

•    Decorate their space. While many long term care communities decorate the common areas of their centers, residents’ personal spaces are often left barren throughout the holidays. Encourage families to create a festive space for their loved ones to celebrate in! Bring them a pre-lit faux tree to brighten up their space for the season. Decorate it with photo ornaments of friends and family. String lights and garland around door frames and windows. Bring in a festive plant to warm their space.

•    Have families play Santa. More than likely, residents in nursing homes will require some help shopping for gifts this holiday season. Ask families to help with their loved ones’ holiday shopping, but don’t cut them out of the process completely. Bring residents catalogs to look at and choose gifts for family members. Help place the orders for them, but have the items shipped to their address. Plan a day to spend quality time wrapping gifts together.

•    Spend time with them. The best gift families can give during the holiday season is the gift of their time. Encourage family members to visit their loved ones in long term care as often as they possibly can. They can watch holiday movies or listen to holiday music together. Or they can bring the whole family over and cook a holiday meal together. There really is no greater gift they can give than quality time together as a family.

Families and friends can fill their loved ones with the holiday spirit by brining their joy of the season to the care center.

Lauren Ray for Wesleyan, a nursing center in Lorain County, Ohio.