Making Special Holiday Memories

By Teri Cronin

If someone you love lives in an assisted living facility or in a memory care unit, it can be hard to know how to make the holidays special. While some gifts are always welcome, like new pajamas or a warm sweater, most of our senior residents’ wants are more intangible.

Decorate your loved one’s room – even if you’re not sure they know or understand. They do feel the holiday spirit and enjoy the lights, the smells and the sounds of the season. An iPod filled with holiday favorites and music from your loved one’s youth is always a hit. We have an iPod here that is used by residents, and they love it. Memory care residents also want companionship. Reminisce about holidays when they were a child or when they were raising their family, watch a favorite holiday movie or just chat. The time spent together is precious.

We plan special days to celebrate holidays that won’t interfere with the plans of family members. About a week before Christmas, we’ll have a big dinner and celebration. Most facilities do something similar. Be sure to go enjoy this time with your loved one – it makes them very proud to have family around and show off their home.

Some families take their loved one to their home for the holidays, but I always want to make sure they understand the limitations of age and illness. How will your mother feel if she has an accident during Christmas dinner? Can she actively participate? Most of our residents stay here for the holidays, but your visits are the highlight of the season. Most seniors truly appreciate the small things –hand holding, seeing the youngest members of the family, etc.

There’s something magical about Christmas for all of us – and our seniors are no exception. All it takes is time, to make this season special.

About this writer

  • Teri Cronin

    Teri Cronin

    Teri Cronin is Executive Director of the Palmettos in Garden City, a residential facility offering a place where residents can live independently in a beautiful, secure and caring environment, free from the daily burdens. When there comes a time when more assistance with general activities of daily living is needed, various levels of care are available. For more information about the Palmettos at Garden City, call 843-668-2500.

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