When your elderly loved one moves to a nursing home facility, it can be a difficult transition for him or her as well as you and your family. Even if moving into a nursing home was part of the plan or the next best step in your loved one’s life, it can be a move that brings up a lot of bittersweet emotions. While your elderly loved one will be getting the care that he or she needs, there are underlying worries that may keep you up at night such as the possibility of nursing home abuse or guilt and wondering if you could have done more as a caregiver.
Even if you no longer have full care and responsibility for your loved one, you can still remain present and active in their life by visiting often and celebrating on special holidays and birthdays. If your elderly loved one has a birthday coming up, make the day extra special by planning a small celebration at the nursing home facility. No matter how old someone is, everyone wants to feel celebrated on their birthday. Here are some party tips and gift ideas that are suitable and useful for nursing home living:
Planning a Celebration
Before you plan an elaborate party and show up with carload of guests, talk with the nursing home staff and let them know what you would like to plan. Make sure that your small party is not infringing on other activities that are already planned for the day. In addition to making sure there’s a time slot free, talk with staff about a guest list and discuss food options that everyone can enjoy. For example, if there are a large number of residents who are on a sugar-free diet, make sure you bake a dessert that is suitable for their needs.
In addition to planning food, talk with the staff to see what kind of party activities would go over well. For example, music is usually always welcomed in a nursing home. Make a mix of some favorites of a particular era and take that time to dance or have a discussion about the “good ol’ days”.
The Guest List
If your loved one is celebrating a milestone year, such as a 90th birthday, you may want to include as many people as possible. Invite family and friends who live in and out of the nursing home. If a party isn’t an option or you don’t think that guests will be able to make the celebration, consider a card shower and encourage all “guests” to send a birthday card to your loved one.
When giving a gift to resident of a nursing home, it’s wise to give something that is useful. Does that mean it needs to be impersonal? No, of course not, but remember that resident rooms are small and there may not be room (or a need) for knick knacks or keepsakes. Here are some gift ideas:
Stationery, stamps and an address book filled with addresses of friends and family
Non-slip shoes or slippers (to help decrease falls or slips)
A variety of toiletries (ie. in your loved one’s favorite scent) so he or she can keep up with hygiene and feel “good” about his or her appearance
Gift certificates to on-site barber shop or beauty salon
Favorite board games, card games, crossword puzzle books, or a magazine subscription to keep entertained during quiet/alone time or to connect with other residents