If you have a loved one in a nursing home or other residential living facility, you may feel guilty about them spending the holidays there. You may wonder if bringing them home, at least for a few days over Thanksgiving or Christmas weekend, would be best for them. You may be concerned that their already short-staffed nursing home is going to be even more short-staffed over the holidays.
Before you notify the nursing home that you’ll be taking your loved one out for a while, consider whether that’s really in their best interests. Is your home accessible, for example, if they use a wheelchair? Even if they don’t, they may not be used to having stairs or even a bathroom without grab bars and other safety features.
If they’re on medication or a special diet, are you able to make sure they stay on that? It’s a lot easier to access food and beverages they shouldn’t be having when they’re away from their nursing home.
Bringing the celebration to them
If you decide that bringing your loved one home for the holidays isn’t the best thing for them, you can bring the celebration to them. You should be able to decorate their room, for example. You might want to bring some of their old holiday decorations and ornaments. Even if your entire family isn’t allowed to visit at one time, you can take turns visiting or maybe take your loved one out for an afternoon.
Most nursing homes and memory care facilities have some type of celebration over the holidays. Even people suffering from dementia who may not fully grasp that it’s the holiday season often respond to classic holiday songs or photos of holidays past. Favorite foods can also spur memories.
Check on holiday staffing
If you’re concerned about the staffing level at your loved one’s facility over the holidays, talk to the management and find out what steps they’re taking to schedule around staff members’ vacation time and on the actual holidays.
While understaffing is often the cause of neglect in elder care facilities, it’s not an excuse. If your loved one is going to be there through the holidays, be extra vigilant during your visits. If a loved one is harmed by neglect or poor care, you have a right to explore your legal options.