For many of us, spending time with our loved ones during the holiday season is the best part of the year. Whether it is traveling to see grandparents or grandchildren who live far away or simply making space in our homes to host the annual holiday gathering, it is not so much about the “what” we are doing but the memories we get to make together during this time of year that matter.
What do we do, however, when our closest loved ones are no longer able to live at home? There could be any number of reasons why our parents and grandparents can no longer live safely within their home but, often, we see it happen as the result of the aging process. It could be the result of difficulties in performing activities of daily living such as bathing and preparing food, or it could be the result of disease such as Alzheimer’s, but the result is the same. Our aging loved one is no longer living in their own home.
This means that our holiday plans have to evolve so that we can be sure to all celebrate together. Although it is critical, visiting loved ones who are in long-term care facilities can be challenging and we need to plan our visits. From determining the visiting hours and the number of guests permitted in the room to potential dietary restrictions if you would like to bring food, there are considerations for you to plan ahead for before your visit.
Perhaps one of the best things to do is to plan your activities that you will share with your loved one. While sharing family scrapbooks and music from his or her generation is always appreciated, we would also encourage you to consider an art project as well. Making art is a well known way to interact with others and colors have been found to have a therapeutic effect for patients suffering from prolonged illness.
Art impacts each of us in different ways and can have a tremendous impact on our daily lives. You may not realize that art has its own special day in America as National Art Day was observed on October 25th of this year. In fact Alzheimer’s Disease research tells us “Although studies on art’s effects on the brain are limited, research suggests that artistic engagement may help to ease common behavioral symptoms of dementia like anxiety, agitation and depression. It may also boost mood and self-esteem, and possibly help stimulate memory.” The shared activity between you and your loved one can have amazing results, together with creating long lasting memories during the holiday season.
The importance of this family collaboration and the impact art can have on you cannot be understated. Be sure to speak with the long-term care facility before you arrive to determine if they have art therapy offerings, and if it is an activity you may be a part of during your visit. Remember, this time spent together does not have to be limited to the holidays but can be done on any visit you make throughout the year.
We also want to let you know that we are here to help you create an elder care plan that can protect you and your loved ones now, and well into the future. Whether you are a Virginia senior, a family member, or a caregiver looking for advice, we encourage you to contact our practice to schedule a meeting.