Our expert caregivers from PA, IL, IN and GA share some great recommendations for making holidays special for clients.
From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve, end-of-the year holidays can be a busy and exciting time for many families. But for people who live alone, it can be a time of loneliness and sadness.
Caregivers can help put the jolly in holidays. During this time of year, the 50,000+ Help at Home caregivers are there to help clients to celebrate the holidays – especially those who don’t have family members or friends who are able to be with them.
Here are some tips from our expert caregivers that can help make the holiday season special for clients.
- Start by asking questions. Ask clients to share their favorite memories from holidays in the past. Learn which holidays they celebrate and how. For example, Tricia, a caregiver in Illinois, learned that one of her clients likes to take flowers to family gravesides every Memorial Day and again at Christmas. Picking up flowers and going to the cemetery is an annual holiday ritual for them.
- Help your client give to others. Luanne, a caregiver in Indiana, said that her client loves baking holiday cakes, but she wants to cook more than she wants to eat! Luanne helps her client think of people to give cakes to – including the staff at her doctor’s office, a favorite store clerk and a favorite librarian.
- Look through old photo albums if they want to. Your client may enjoy reliving happy memories of past holidays. But follow their lead – if they get sad or upset, don’t force it.
- Cook a special holiday meal. Aixa of Pennsylvania said she has cooked many Thanksgiving meals for clients, often one that they share with other people who live in their apartment building. It sounds impressive, but she said cooking for just a few people isn’t that hard for her. Stuffing mix is pretty easy, but it means “Thanksgiving” for many people.
- Do a little something every week. Allison, a caregiver in Georgia, said she sometimes makes up her own holidays. If your client celebrates Christmas, you might just have to declare a random day in December “Christmas socks day” and show up in your craziest Christmas socks. “For a lot of our clients, those small things are what they look forward to,” she said. “Seeing the caregiver is what they look forward to.”
- Songs, songs, songs. Even people with memory problems sometimes remember old songs. Sharing holiday songs is a fun way make even a normal lunch seem festive. If they can’t get out much, help them call friends or family to do Christmas caroling by video! Even if they celebrate a holiday you don’t celebrate, you may be able to find some of the related songs on your phone.
- Decorate for the holidays. Kinya, a care coordinator in Pennsylvania, used to work as a caregiver. She said the simplest way to ring in the holidays was to help her clients put up decorations they already have. Often, they just need someone who is good with stairs to lug the ornaments up from the basement – or to get them off a top shelf of the closet. Kinya has fond memories of going through Christmas ornaments with clients and hanging them on a tree. Even if the client wasn’t able to help much, they could tell her where to hang the ornaments.
- Don’t be afraid to be silly. Allison said she makes it her goal to be the silliest person at any event with clients. If she is singing loudly and off key, they won’t feel too shy to sing along themselves. If she is dancing in a silly manner, they will feel more comfortable dancing in their wheelchair.
- Remember some of the less major holidays, from the serious to the silly. Everyone thinks about Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, but other holidays are happening too. Veterans Day, (Nov. 11) and Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day (Dec. 7) are good times to ask clients about their military service – or the military service of family members. Some clients may feel too emotional to talk about missing their dad on Christmas but would enjoy talking about his military service on Veteran’s Day. On a silly note, share a cookie on National Cookie Day (Dec. 4), or ask your client if they remember their first microwave oven on Dec. 6, which is Microwave Oven Day.