Have you ever held a family party at a care center?

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This is the second year we've held a family holiday party at Mom's nursing home. It worked wonderfully! I wonder who else does this, and how it works for you.

We reserved a community room for two hours. The center made sure there were enough banquet tables and chairs in there. They also left the holiday decorations up in that room.

A few of us arrived early and helped Mom get ready, and set up the room. We had dollar-store plastic tableclothes. Food was potluck, finger foods. We brought paper plates and plastic forks, punch, and water. The center provided coffee.

There were about 20 people. Entertainment was talking to each other. We also had the tv on for those who had to see the football playoff. The youngest 4 kids had electronic devices with them and giggled together over games. We took group pictures in every conceivable combination. Mom sat patiently in her wheel chair as we gathered behind her.

Some people put money in Mom's spending account, for hair appointments. There was no exchange of gifts, but many brought contributions for the bingo prize box -- small calendars, fingerless mittens, tubes of hand lotion -- that kind of thing. The center goes through A LOT of prizes and residents really seem to like choosing them. We are grateful for the activities program and like to help in this small way.

After two hours the party was over. Everyone left! (Except the ones clearing out the room and folding up the tables, etc.) I don't think the center would mind if we lingered but that was the end of Mom's stamina and it was really good to have a built-in deadline for ending the party.

Because of Mom's mobility issues we could not have held this at anyone's house, but I think this was a much better option anyway. Yes, it is some work to organize and to bring in food etc., but not nearly as much work as hosting in a house. The timing was self-enforced. And Mom truly enjoyed it.

We did a similar event but on a smaller scale for her birthday last year. Private parties in the care center work great for us.

Have you had experience with this?

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We do a second Thanksgiving (usually the Saturday or Sunday after) and an early or late Christmas. We generally book from 1 or 2pm until 5 pm. Mom usually stays for about 90 minutes.

This was, to begin with, a continuatuon of "second Thanksgiving " which we instituted many years ago to keep down the flack about who went to which relative.

It's about beinging the party and the fun to the person who is the least mobile.
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I've had a few small get-togethers with relatives, but nothing as large as your gathering. When out-of town relatives came to visit once while Dad was in rehab, we all went to one of the lounges so we could visit freely while the roommate rested. We just had coffee, but it was all we wanted at that time.

There also have been times when several friends of my father's came to visit at the same time; there were definitely more than the number normally allowed in a hospital room (9 I think, including me) but the staff never made an issue of it.

Sounds like this was very successful for a lot of reasons. I especially like the idea of having an in-facility gathering so that your mother doesn't have to brave the inclement or frigid weather at this time of the year. The transit issues would be so much more fatiguing and lessen the enjoyment of the actual party.

And I think another important aspect is that it helps anyone to realize that living away from one's private home doesn't mean isolation; the venue is changed but she can still visit with her friends and family.

At the rehab facility where my mother first stayed, one of the residents had lunch weekly with his family; there was a nicely appointed private room in which they met and chatted. He also had mobility issues, so going out just wasn't realistic.

This is a really good idea; I'm glad you shared it and intend to keep this concept in mind if we ever are in a similar situation.
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