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A friend of the family has recently moved into AL. She is there due to her physical limitations, her mind is sharp as a tack. She is adjusting well, although it is a 40 minute drive for her husband to come visit. She hopes a bed will come available in the sister facility 20 minutes closer to home.


There will be a big Christmas Dinner with family invited on Dec 14, which she is looking forward to, but when I saw her yesterday, she was lamenting missing Christmas at home. Not complaining, but missing the traditions, decorating, treats, visiting, music etc. Her grandson has brought her a pretty little tree, but how can I help make it feel like Christmas for her?


Her kids are very far away and will not be here for Christmas. Her two grandsons are closer, one goes to school 40 minutes away, the other works about 6 hours away.


I would love to take her out for a drive to see the lights, but her physical limitations make getting her into a car very challenging and painful during the transfer.


Just looking for some suggestions on how to bring her some Christmas Cheer? I will see her on Friday again and ask, but would love some suggestions too.


She does have a TV, but I am not sure if she has a computer. I do not know if she has a way to play music. I will ask on Friday about bringing in treats, for her and for her to share with the others on her floor.

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Thank you for the suggestions.

I visited on Friday and asked if she would like some homemade Christmas treats. She said that would be lovely and I will take some on the 10th.

I like the idea of bringing Christmas Cards and stamps so she can send some out. I will ask her husband about an address book, I will also ask him for suggestions.

I guess she is in more of a nursing home than assisted living. I am not clear on the differences and I think this facility offers differing levels of care. She has a bedroom, a fairly nice large private room with bathroom, takes all her meals in the dining room. She has physical impairments, mostly wheelchair bound, but mentally is fully functional. She commented that she is still figuring out which of the residents have dementia and which do not.

Unfortunately the home is about 45 minutes from her home community and she does not know anyone there. Her husband moving in with her or moving closer is not an option. When a bed came available she had to take it. Unfortunately in this part of Canada, the number of beds is out numbered by the number of people needing care.

I will ask her for her favourite recipes for treats and try to replicate them for her. It would be nice if she could give her grandson a familiar cookie or bar when he visits.
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Reply to Tothill
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Rabanette Dec 2, 2018
Phone calls and cards are good too. You may have to do some gentle reminding especially with the younger folk.
Magazine and newspaper subscriptions make good Xmas gifts.
Whatever you do it will be appreciated by your friend.
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Just brainstorming here. Could you take some presents there for the two of you to wrap together? Do some craft activity with her. Take the Christmas cards to her and work with her to get them addressed? Could you take a tablet or laptop to her and skype with the absent relatives? You can bring her all the treats you want to bring. Look into what activities are going on at the AL. They will have a schedule. Some of you could join in with these activities. You could figure out in advance where the best light displays are and make sure you drive by/stop on the way to your house for the dinner.
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Reply to Toadhall
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Something small ideally.
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Reply to Llamalover47
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Does she have a DVR or iPhone? Maybe you could stop at some of the places with great lights and record little tour stop vignettes for her. If one is near a favorite bakery, deli, or restaurant, stop and pick up one of her favorite dishes (if it's not against dr's orders). It's not the same as being there, but it will bring some of the outside in, and make her wotld bigger.
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Reply to SFdaughter
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Is she associated with a church or other organization? If so, she might ask if they are doing any caroling events during this season. I sing with a group that goes out to care facilities, and we will be doing 4 or 5 programs of Christmas music between now and Christmas. You might also ask the Activities Director if they ever get offers on Christmas music programs.
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Reply to partsmom
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Send an email to all of the people mentioned above including yourself, her kids and grandkids. Divide up all of the days until Xmas evenly. Make a schedule and send it to everyone. This won't go perfectly but that doesn't matter. On each of your assigned days you are responsible for sending Christmas cheer to this friend, with either a phone call, a card, a gift, or whatever else you can come up.
It's a form of an advent calendar.
Can you hire a helper to go with you to see the lights?
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Reply to Rabanette
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Tothill: not sure how much you want to get involved, but this is what I do:

I moved my father into a memory care facility last August. I try to decorate his large window most major holidays - I buy the gel or cling decorations and bought some suction cups to hang small things. I put a wreath or large decoration on his door. There’s a small corner outside his door that I decorate with statues; for Christmas he has a small decorated tree. I can’t decorate his room much because he has a tendency to get into mischief when he gets bored and is left alone in his room: i.e., pulling gloves out of the box, tying knots in his oxygen tubing, turning on the shower and faucets in the bathroom, etc. -nothing major or destructive, but enough that I can’t leave large decorations lying around on his tables/floor.
Although he is not cognitive enough to realize the change of seasons, holidays, or what the decorations mean, his room looks nice for visitors and I feel good keeping it decorated for him. The family consult me for his gifts: they help supply him with replacement clothing, PJs, and any other clothing that he may need for his daily living. My sister and I buy material and she makes shirt protectors for him. To show appreciation to the staff, I periodically make up a large goodie basket.
Most of the family live out of state, but they visit him whenever they’re in town. He doesn’t know us most of the time, but a BIG smile comes to his face when he sees the great-grandkids!
So as you can see, nothing major or costly, but it’s the little things that count. Just a personal touch here and there. Bless you for wanting to make her feel more comfortable....
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Reply to tazlady
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We bought one of the advent calendars that you can fill individually. We put chocolate in some of the drawers and little gifts in others. We also put a couple of numbered envelopes on the back with more substantial gifts and a corresponding note in that day’s drawer.
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Reply to klarson102
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as above, its a new place she has to live, make it new, the gson was so sweet to bring a small tree, bring some small ornaments or lights that were special to her, put they up, Put up new lights that sparkle, decorate her whole room, the staff wont care, if she is happy you have happy staff,  Stop and buy a box of choclates or donuts, spoil the staff, they love it and will treat you friend better, just include the husband and family in all the plans,  someone in the family Must be able to go and have dinner with her at the facility,  Get the family moving on a TV and DVD player, get her all her favourite movies so she can watch.  Remember it hard on her and well as the family.  Its truly hard to put a family member in a care home, But what is 40 minutes for a drive to see a smile on your friends face.  Your family will understand.  Take the kids, she will love it.
Been there done all of the decorating and had to take down.  Find joy and peace in doing something for a old friend, Maybe the family will even help.
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Reply to Pollytommy
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Just put my parents (yes both of them at the same time) into a home in late Sept and have finally returned to my home which is 500 miles away. I had the same thought and this is what I came up with:

Each week on a Tuesday a nurse is helping me to do a Christmas countdown. I got 8 gifts (4 for each of them) and on Tuesday the nurse brings a gift for each of them to their room. Last week was the first of the gifts and my mom called to say they would save their gives for Christmas Day not realizing they would be receiving more. Once she understood she was very excited to receive her favorite face cream (Dad received shaving cream). I'm not sure that they understand they'll be getting a gift each week for four weeks but that's fine; they can be surprised each time it happens. It's my little way of letting them know I'm thinking of them all the time.

Hope this helps.
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Reply to BaileyP3
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I think that missing out on former traditions is a reality that can't be sugar coated. Several have mentioned all the lovely activities that are likely available at her AL/NH but I am honestly relieved my mom passed away before we had to endure another christmas at the nursing home, the reality for us was that all holidays meant problems with staffing levels and although they tried their best nobody appreciates being forced to work a double shift because your coworkers called in "sick", especially on christmas. And all those wonderful holiday entertainments seemed to fill November and early December but petered out by the actual day - even christmas day dinner was a dismal rehash of the turkey always on the menu rotation, with any residents who were remotely able gone for the day.
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Reply to cwillie
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I'd go for Christmassy-but-different, rather than try to replicate the kind of traditional thing she's used to. If you've always decorated your house beautifully, then a sad little tree next to the pull-cord is going to look like a parody, which is what you want to avoid at all costs.

Oh. Oops. Sorry, I missed the part about grandson having... Well if he's chosen a pretty one then that's lovely of him! What a thoughtful young man.

I think I'll stop digging now. But go for glamour and style rather than family tradition, is what I mean.
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Reply to Countrymouse
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You are a friend and not family. Sing some carols, perhaps ask the place she is living at if they plan any activities and have some hot coco. Don't take her out(unless you have family approval).
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Reply to donkeehote
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Make sure she has all her special decorations up and tree! My parents are having their first Christmas and we did in her apartment what we did in her home. We reserved a community space to have Christmas together with all the family. Try carry all family traditions there if possible. There probably will be lots of entertainment to enjoy in dec make sure she has family joining her and friends. Let her host a cookie and coffee social in her her apartment if possible and remember family and friends make Christmas special not the location good luck!
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Reply to Robbie2018
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When my husband was alive with vascular dementia, we lived in a continuing care facility and there were plenty of Christmas activities there. A group of children from a local school came over to sing Christmas carols, there was a party with a Santa Claus giving out gifts. This doesn't substitute for family--why didn't her husband move with her? Although I moved out of our facility when my husband died (for financial reasons), I find myself missing the camaraderie of the group there and honestly hope to go back when I myself am no longer as physically and mentally independent as I am now.
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Reply to Arleeda
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I agree with not taking her out if her comfort or yours are jeopardized. Did you ask the AL if there are options of volunteer agencies who provide holiday transportation?

If her place has WiFi consider getting a gift of an inexpensive tablet. I see some basic ones for $99. Her distant relatives most likely have technology to communicate face to face. If they cannot be there for her, she still gets to see them. She could also find music on WiFi.
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Reply to MACinCT
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My aunt is home bound so she doesn't have the facility events but she loves Christmas. She insists on keeping her tree up year round now. I was looking forward to not having to put it up this year and then a good portion of the lights went out. She wanted me to leave it alone but one night after she was in bed, I took it all apart and put new led lights, hopefully they will last though this next year.
Next week I will help her do a few cards. I'll include a recent picture of her.
Address them for her and let her sign her name and write anything else inside that she would like .
She loves to sing and comes up with old artists she remembers from long ago. I'll look them up on my phone and sometimes we find the song or artist she is remembering on YouTube. Sometimes she sings along. If you have a small speaker and a smart phone you might be able to pick up favorite carols and play them while you are there.
Closer to Christmas, I'll get her phone book out and we'll call different ones. This gives her an opportunity to reach out to two or three others a visit. When she gets cards, I'll display them. She likes to point out that she's gotten a card and will I hang it up for her. Then she'll forget who they are from and we'll talk about that and sometimes I get them all down for her to look through again. We talk about the holidays from long ago. That's always fun. Sometimes I think I'm hearing about a Hallmark movie that was just on. smile
I had an elderly neighbor who would stud oranges with cloves and give those away for treats.They smell wonderful. If she strung popcorn as a child, she might enjoy that.
Will her husband come and spend the day with her on Christmas? She might like some help finding him a gift? That would be a nice surprise for him. Perhaps family will send gifts that they can open together on Christmas?
I remember when I was dating my first husband, we had a family dinner with an old couple in attendance. A great aunt and uncle. After the dinner was over we took them to their home. They had received several gifts at the dinner. They took them home unopened. I thought perhaps they were saving them for Christmas which maybe was the next day. I can't remember right now, more than 50 years ago.
When we got to their house, we helped them in. They were the sweetest little couple. He called her wife and she called him sweetheart. They didn't have children. The minute we got them both settled in front of their fire and all their care packages of food and the gifts inside, they started ripping into them. It was really fun watching them. They were like little kids on Christmas morning. I remember one gift was red shoes, her favorite.
This will be a special Christmas for you, making it nice for her.
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Reply to 97yroldmom
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AL apartments usually have a small fridge and microwave - what about some hot cocoa mixes and marshmallows, some special seasonal teas? A tin of goodies like gingerbread or sugar cookies that she could snack on. I used to bring 3# bag of clementines to my mom and she'd share them with the aides. Also, maybe a string of lights in her windows, on a timer. I love the LED pillar candles with built in timers. We used to put a wreath on the outside of my mom's door, and many residents had little figurines by their "front door". A small Nativity set would be nice for her apartment. And maybe something scented.
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Reply to Linda22
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Tothill, most Assisted Living facilities plan holiday events for the residents. Check with the Staff and see what is on the agenda.
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