The holidays can be a great time to connect with older loved ones who may be living in nursing homes. However, with flu season in full swing and COVID-19 infections still being reported, it’s critical to take precautions so your loved ones aren’t put at risk. Learn how you can safely celebrate the holidays in nursing homes this year.
Can I Safely Visit Nursing Home Residents Over the Holidays?
Yes. There are plenty of ways you can safely connect with nursing home residents you love during the holiday season.
If you’re planning on visiting nursing homes during the holidays:
- Stay up-to-date on vaccinations: Many pharmacies are now offering both flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time, allowing you to keep yourself safe from infection and transmitting illnesses to others.
- Wear face masks: Face masks are an easy way to prevent transmitting less serious illnesses like the common cold as well as more severe conditions, including COVID-19.
- Follow other precautions: Some nursing homes may have specific rules to keep people safe, such as temperature checks for visitors. Make sure you know the facility’s rules before you visit.
- Check on your loved one’s health: If you haven’t seen your loved one in person recently, take a look for possible signs of nursing home abuse or neglect during your visit. Be sure to note any strange changes in their physical, mental, or emotional health and report them.
Following all safety guidelines can ensure that you and your loved ones have a safe and stress-free holiday season.
It’s important to follow precautions as nursing homes bring older adults who may have pre-existing health problems together in a communal setting. This creates a perfect storm for infections and illnesses like the flu and COVID-19 to spread out of control.
Though many COVID-19 regulations have been relaxed, the coronavirus is still causing infections and hospitalizations, putting vulnerable nursing home residents at risk.
Nursing Home Holiday Celebration Ideas
With all the proper precautions in place, you can celebrate the holidays with nursing home residents and feel at ease.
Find some great ways to celebrate the holidays in a nursing home below.
Christmas caroling is a great way to get into the holiday spirit. You can organize your own choir or pass out printed lyrics to songs so nursing home residents can join in.
Christmas caroling can be done indoors or outdoors if the weather is nice.
Make sure to check with nursing home staff ahead of time if you’re planning on bringing a large group to sing. They can see if caroling is a good idea depending on the COVID-19 and flu rates in your area.
Holiday Care Packages and Presents
A holiday care package or an early Christmas present can brighten a nursing home resident’s mood. You can give residents ornaments, festive clothes, or treats that fit their dietary restrictions.
You can hand-deliver presents or mail holiday care packages. Either way, you’ll be making the residents you care about very happy.
If you visit them in person, you can also have your loved one help you select and wrap gifts for other family members. This is a great way to get them involved in the holiday season and give back to others.
Coordinate Digital Visits
If you, a close family member, or a friend live far away from a nursing home resident or can’t see them in person due to illnesses, a digital visit is the next best thing.
Smartphone and computer applications like FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom have made video calls easier than ever before.
A nursing home resident will be delighted to get a call from a close friend or family member they haven’t seen in a while. Maybe you can even make the call a surprise for the holiday season.
Safely Connect With Residents This Holiday Season
It’s great to spend time with those you love during the holidays, but safety is crucial to protect everyone’s health and well-being.
As you visit nursing home residents you love, make sure you pay attention to their overall health. While Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and the New Year are supposed to be happy times, nursing home neglect and abuse do not take holidays off.
Be sure to quickly report nursing home abuse to ombudsmen, Adult Protective Services (APS), or 911 in the event of an emergency.
On behalf of the entire Nursing Home Abuse Justice team, have a safe and happy holiday season.