It’s that time of year when families get together and celebrate Christmas by enjoying food, gifts and each other’s company. If it’s your first Christmas with your loved one in aged care, this can be a particularly tough time. Simarly, if you’re just about to have a loved one move into residential aged care, it might be difficult to conceptualise what how you spend future Christmas celebrations.
The good news is, just because your loved one is in aged care or is planning to be this coming Christmas; it doesn’t mean you can’t bring the festivities to their room. There are many ways to bring the happy holiday spirit to someone special with small decorations, music, thoughtful gifts and most of all, love!
If it’s not your first year, we’d love to know what sort of things you did or would recommend others to consider. Email us or post on our socials (insert links).
Keep an eye out on regulations this Christmas
Before you think about all the fun ways you can bring Christmas to your loved one’s aged care facility, it is important to understand if there are any current regulations and restrictions. Depending on your situation and what you’ve got planned for the holidays, if you’re thinking of visiting your loved one at Christmas time, then you will need to make sure you know what you can and can’t do. Each facility has slightly different rules and regulations, so it is important to be abreast of them so you are properly prepared.
Here’s a small list of things you might like to consider and questions to ask when planning your visit:
- What are the visiting hours over the Christmas period and how many people are permitted in the room (Covid restrictions may be in place).
- If face-to-face visitors are not permitted or you’re unable to visit, check with the facility on other ways you can connect with your loved one (social media, face time, email, phone call etc). We suggest booking ahead because there will be many other families looking to do the same.
- You could also check if there’s anyone else who might be alone on Christmas and if they’d like to spend it together with your loved one. The lifestyle manager may be able to help you coordinate this.
- Find out what festive activities the facility has planned and which ones you and the family can get involved in. There might be a Christmas party or Secret Santa you could assist with?
- Check their health and safety policies regarding gifts and food. Some items may not be permitted due to the risk factors involved. If in doubt, best to leave it at home.
- Lastly, if you are posting a gift or card to your loved one, consider the postage cut-off dates. You can let friends and family know to ensure that your loved one can receive some Christmas wishes in the post.
This list is not exhaustive, but will hopefully help you think about and plan your upcoming Christmas to ensure you can make it as pleasant experience as possible.
How to shower your loved one in aged care with festive cheer
Do you associate Christmas with a certain smell or have memories of the way everything looked, sounded and smelt? Our senses are very powerful and can help evoke very joyous emotions. Creating the atmosphere of Christmas through the senses can help a loved one get the Christmas experience they fondly remember. Below you will find some ideas of what you could bring to their room to help recreate pleasant memories, as well as create some fond new memories together.
Diffusing essential oils is a wonderful way of activating memories through smell. Check with the facility and make sure they are okay with you doing so. Some popular Christmas smells include: cypress, pine, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, Frankincense, Myrrh, orange, peppermint, and ginger.
Some essential oils can even help uplift or calm down the mood. If your loved one needs help with relaxing and sleep, give lavender a go. If you do not have a diffuser, a few drops of essential oils on a pillow or diluted with some oil also work.
Music, especially certain Christmas carols, can really bring a room alive. Get out your music device and help your loved one relive the songs that were most special to them at this time of year. Some of the classics, such as Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin, might be the kind of music they like to listen to. Whether it’s classic or modern Christmas music, it will be a nice addition to the mood in the room. Singing out loud is also a great activity to stimulate the mind and mood. You might even be able to get everyone signing along!
Some facilities will provide all the delicious Christmas food you need (check with them directly) but you might be able to bring in a favourite Christmas food that’s not already on the menu. Make sure you check with the facility about their regulations on bringing external food in. You might be able to take in some baked biscuits, shortbread or cake, or some fresh fruit to bring a bit of festive cheer.
Why not bring some Christmas decorations to make the room feel festive? Add a bit of tinsel, Christmas ornaments, lights and even a little Christmas tree if it’s permitted. You can also consider other visual aids such as playing their favourite holiday movies, home videos, looking at photos from earlier Christmas celebrations, reading some Christmas stories or getting the grandkids to put on a little show. Your loved one would probably also enjoy a bunch of flowers or an indoor plant and some Christmas cards to read.
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What’s cooking good looking?
Everyone has their favourite recipes that they can’t live without for Christmas. They could be traditional family recipes that have been passed down throughout the years or one you’ve recently taste tested and really enjoyed.
Although most facilities provide all meals to their residents, there might be an opportunity to bring something extra to the room.
Don’t forget to stipulate any dietary requirements or cultural requirements to make sure they aren’t missing out on something special at this time of year.
Some traditional Christmas foods that some loved ones might resonate with include:
- Ham cooked with glazing and stuffing
- Fresh seafood such as prawns
- Christmas pudding
- Gingerbread biscuits
Handmade gift guide
It’s the thought that counts
There is nothing more special than a handmade gift that someone has put thought, time and effort into. It’s these meaningful gifts that are truly appreciated. Giving is a big part of what Christmas is all about.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Create your own Christmas cards or crafts (get out the glitter, enlist the grandkids to help).
- Write a letter (with stamp and all, include some printed photos).
- Diary / book with some entries from the whole family and encourage your loved one to fill out some memories.
- Photo albums or books with family memories to look back on together (you could also book a photographer to come in and capture some family photos to add to the album).
- Family tree or history book.
- Knit, crochet a wall hanging or sew a cushion cover or piece of clothing for your loved one.
- Secondhand shopping to support a good cause, local markets or handmade gifts online (e.g. Made It).
The best present of all – you and the family sending love from near and afar. They will know you care and are thinking about them.
Aged Care Decisions will be working across the festive season to make sure you can receive the support you need, right when you need it most. If you or a loved one needs assistance with finding aged care this Christmas, fill out this form or give us a call on 1300 775 870.