Nursing Home Christmas (and other holidays)

My perennial post on the perennial issue around this time of year:

‘Twas the week before Christmas…

And 83-year old Albertha assured me her family was planning to take her home for the holidays.

“Have you talked to them about it?  Have they called the social worker to arrange a pass, and meds, and transportation?”

“No,” she replied, “but they’re coming to get me.”


‘Twas the week after Christmas, and Albertha was glum.

“They didn’t show up.  I waited all day, but they didn’t come.”

Albertha spent Christmas day watching other people go out on pass and return, and seeing families arriving with food and gifts and smiles.


Now my residents and I start discussing the holidays a few weeks in advance, addressing wishes and practicalities, phoning families if needed, and getting the social worker involved.  We set up a hierarchy of plans.

  • Plan A:  Go home for the day.
  • Plan B:  Go out to a wheelchair accessible restaurant with family.
  • Plan C:  Have visitors come with food and go around the corner for coffee, if possible, just to get out.
  • Plan D:  Stay in with visitors and food.
  • Plan E:  Talk to family members on the telephone, discussing plans for a future visit, while sitting in a room festooned with cards and holiday decorations.  Attend the nursing home holiday party.
  • Plan F:  Have a small holiday gathering in the room with nursing home friends after the facility party.

 Since then, my people know what to expect from the holidays, even if the expectation is that their family might not arrive as hoped.

4 thoughts on “Nursing Home Christmas (and other holidays)”

  1. ALways a difficult time of year for our residents, escpecially for those with family that is far away or lost contact. I try to lend extra warmth and support. Hope you are well,and would love to meet “in person” one day!

  2. Yes, for many residents this is the most challenging time of the year. It can help if families create new traditions that allow their loved ones to be a part of the celebration despite wheelchairs or dementia or dietary restrictions. I look forward to meeting you, Victoria, and I’m sure this will happen one day soon. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

  3. The holidays are always tough for residents and it is great that you provide some many other options. The best option you provide is a small holiday get together for everyone so that they can experience and enjoy the holidays with someone even if their family is not available. Keep you the great work guys and happy holidays.


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