Vacation as a Psychotherapeutic Tool

I find it challenging to tell my residents I’m going on vacation, though I’m better at it than I used to be. I like to go to fabulous places, and they’re stuck in the nursing home. I know I need to “recharge my batteries,” as I tell them, and I’ve learned a few things along the way.
My travels can be a tool for reminiscence, discussing places they’ve been.
We can address choices they’ve made, work through regrets, and celebrate successes.
We can find ways they can make smaller trips, such as attending activities, going out on home passes, or joining peers on recreation department outings.
I’ve learned there are no guarantees in life, and if I want to travel, I need to do it while I can.
When it’s my turn, I’d rather be sitting in my nursing home room missing the things I used to do, than regretting the things I never did.

7 thoughts on “Vacation as a Psychotherapeutic Tool”

  1. I work in the travel industry and I know the value of vacations. It has been proven that people who take vacations are 39% more productive in thier jobs, they are more motivated, they have less stress and they can deal with the daily challenges much better. I had not considered these same advantages would apply to the elderly. Let's get out there folks.

  2. Dr. El,
    In my experience, most residents recognize the need for staff to take a vacation, enjoy a long weekend or even just go home after a day of work etc. even though they are "stuck" in the nursing home. While circumstances may change, I think generally speaking residents who enjoyed being active in the past will continue to find activities or alternative activities to what they used to enjoy….unless of course, they are depressed.

    When it's your turn, maybe you will miss the things you used to do, but you will find other things that please you.

  3. Working in a nursing home is exhausting and to take a vacation is one perfect way to recharge. We all need a break sometimes.

  4. Thanks for the confirmation of the importance of vacations. I write this comment from the Caribbean Island of Antigua — my first time on the Internet in four days.

  5. Hi Dr El!
    Its Frances from the cruise….went online to see your "work" (actually I can tell it is your "love"). Vacations are great to help me stand back from my weekly reality @ home/work and rejuvinate and reaffirm priorities so that I can "suck the marrow out of life" (from that movie w/Robin Williams) knowing I did all I could do, and all I can do will be enough to feel happy, joyous and free in my skin and spirit. Great to meet the family and share in your life!

  6. Thanks, Frances, for visiting and commenting. I always feel like vacations mark the end of one life chapter and the beginning of the next, and give me energy for the next phase. I get that "seize the day" feeling from my work, which puts me in touch with what I want to accomplish during my lifetime.


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