Home For The Holidays: What It Means For Seniors In Nursing Homes

USATODAY.com reported in 2009 that well over 1.8 million people were living in nursing homes.

 Residents enjoy dressing up to go out on pass to spend the day at home with family and loved ones. For those who cannot go home , the facility’s staff make these times memorable  by throwing  Holiday parties, providing patient grab bags for gift giving, and preparing wonderful meals mindful of their times spent outside the walls of long term healthcare facilities.

Thirty-three years of nursing experience under my belt allowed for personal insights into the psyche of this seemingly forgotten group of people, most felt during the time of celebrations of holidays, birthdays and family gathering. Getting to go home for the Holidays is the happiest time for seniors in nursing homes.

Perhaps lay people cannot understand the shift in dynamics that occur when people become ill and unable to function for themselves, oftentimes, prompting family and loved ones to place them in these Long term care facilities whose sole function is to oversee and provide continuous hours of intervention allowing for their privacy invasion under doctors, nurses, therapists and other departments working in the areas of caregiver for continued well being.

When someone is diagnosed with a terminal or chronic illness and other predisposing factor like amputation, memory loss from dementia or blindness from diabetes;  an emotionally battle of internal conflict arises as people strive to come to terms with their loss of independence.

The reasonings behind people being admitted into nursing homes and assisted living facilites are varied and immeasurable. As a Geriatric nurse, I’ve seen patients withdraw from participating in routine daily activites such as group settings, meals and even taking showers as an after effect from their lifestyle change. There’s oftentimes denial, feelings of helplessness, and misplaced anger against staff, other residents, and their own family members as the obvious reality of their situation emerges.

 Many long term care facilities obviously anticipate the needs of their patients by providing access to Psych Therapies, Social Workers, and Nurse Advocacy Programs that are put in place to help individuals deal with their medical diagnosis where favorable outcomes are oftentimes limiting due to their medical  prognosis.

 Under the status as a former professional nurse, I will continue to advocate for eldercare and elder rights by sharing insights into the vulnerability and need a patient has to feel a part of society, in relation to their illnesses. Looking forward to Holiday visits from family, friends and strangers can make a resident’s day and set the tone for their continued good health!

Getting to go home for the holidays is just the icing on the cake for people in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. It’s the year round visits and remembrances that can help bring joy  throughout their lifespan...

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