I know, I know, that’s not how the word is pronounced. But as soon as I read about the Danish concept of coziness, I got that darn Will Smith song (“Gettin Jiggy With It”) in my head and I can’t get it out.
Hygge (actually pronounced “hyoo-guh”) refers to the creation of a comforting, convivial environment. Think hot cocoa, warm blankets and crackling fireplaces, with loved ones.
It sounds so charming that I resolved to apply hygge to an upcoming vacation. I decided to mix local sightseeing with a few days saved for the pleasures of cooking, reading a book and watching movies with an occasional bowl of popcorn under a comforter with my family. And, of course, I considered how the idea could be applied to long-term care facilities.
Nursing homes, which could generally do with an increased focus on “home” over “nursing,” have many reasons and opportunities to add some hygge.
First and foremost is the chance to “flip the script” about being in a confined environment. Residents who have infrequent opportunities to get outside under the best of circumstances and even fewer chances during inclement weather, often feel depressed or resentful regarding their confinement. Practicing hygge offers a mental shift from a perception of restriction to one of comfort.
During the holidays, residents may observe peers going out for day passes and family members arriving for visits. For those without passes or visitors, using hygge concepts can ease their emotional pain in a kind, simple manner that emphasizes their belonging to a group.
While holiday activities such as seasonal movies and Christmas caroling are wonderful, a hygge approach would suggest adding periods of quieter comforts such as lap blankets, a fireplace video and a story read aloud. Some people might enjoy crocheting or drawing during this communal activity. If the kitchen sent up a batch of warm cookies, so much the better.
Residents may not be the only ones less-than-thrilled about being at the facility on a holiday. While many staff members consider their LTC jobs a calling and are gracious about being of service to elders on Christmas or New Year’s Eve, others may be disgruntled with the holiday shift and may “leak” their emotions to their charges.
A hygge approach can soften staff resentment.