Celebrating the holidays with family and friends is a special time that many look forward to all year long. If you have a family member living in an assisted living or nursing facility, you may be wondering how to bring a little of the holidays into their space. Typically those apartments are much smaller than the home they spent most of their life in, so creative thinking is a must.
Think about their most cherished items – a nativity set, a special ornament, a lighted decoration – and start there. Most rooms will not accommodate a full size tree, but artificial trees are available in a variety of sizes, including tabletop. Do check with the staff on any size or material restrictions. If you decide to forego the tree, a special ornament or two can be displayed on a stand or display hanger.
Your loved one may also be interested in some new items for decorating. Many seniors are fascinated by new technologies available with LED lights and other technology-based décor items. Perhaps their new space has a different feel from their old home and they would like a different look for the holidays. Talk with your loved one and see what they have in mind for decorating.
Make sure that any decorations are something that your loved one can manage – and comply with any restrictions the living facility may have. Most facilities prefer prelit trees that are battery operated, or with a built-in switch in the cord. For a variety of reasons, including fall prevention and meeting fire safety requirements, many facilities are particular about extension cords and power surge protectors so either avoid using them or check with your facility. Many people use candles to decorate for the holidays, but that’s not the best idea for a senior and may be against their residence’s restrictions.
Lastly, there are special considerations if your loved one suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. With both conditions, it’s typically the short term memory that is affected, and a change in routine or surroundings is upsetting. Often, the brain retains memories from long ago – so when decorating the space, avoid newer items that are unfamiliar and bring out long cherished heirlooms, or special ornaments or décor from the home the spent most of their life in. You don’t have to bring everything – just special items that will fit in their new space. An ornament can be displayed on a stand instead of putting in a small tree, a favorite tablecloth can be folded to fit a side table, and a lighted item can be added to a windowsill or nearby on the floor if it’s a little larger. You may be surprised to experience a moment of clarity with your loved one as you bring these items into their present day holiday decorations.