How to Make the Holidays Special for Loved Ones at Oxford Health and Rehab

Published 7:43 pm Monday, November 23, 2020

 Sponsored by Oxford Health and Rehab

Having a loved one at home for the holidays is often the highlight of the year for families, particularly if that loved one is a resident of a long-term care facility. But in 2020, with the COVID 19 pandemic raging, in order to be ensure there are holiday memories to be made next year, families with are being encouraged to make other plans to celebrate the holiday with their loved ones.

“We know that there is an urge to take residents home to take spend time with the families,” said Blake Carrington, CE0 and administrator of Oxford Health and Rehab. Federal, state and local health officials, however are discouraging that practice this year, due to a spike in COVID-19 cases and the risk a resident could become exposed to the virus outside the facility and bring it back, where it could infect other residents or staff.

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But just because a resident cannot physically leave the facility for the holidays doesn’t mean it can’t be celebrated in a special way with loved ones. Carrington and his staff offered several suggestions for alternatives to visits this year, many of which are also suggested by the AARP for elderly loved ones who aren’t in health care facilities but also are being told not to congregate with extended family because of heightened risk of infection.

  • Sending “snail mail” cards and letters.
  • Sending a care package to a loved one that includes items such as cross word puzzle and word find books, puzzles, (consider ones with large pieces, or a personalized one with a photo of a loved one), stationary items and calendars, DVDs, books, magazines, warm blankets, socks with grips on the bottom, skin care and personal care items like tissues, hair brushes, lip balm, shampoo and lotion.
  • Assemble a hobby box with items such as art supplies and paper, yarn and crochet hooks, or even miniature slinkies and squishy toys for those with silly streaks!
  • Create a snack box with items including tea bags, packaged snacks like chips or cookies, gum, or candy, and healthy items like miniature oranges, nuts and dried fruits. Or schedule a bulk delivery of items your loved ones enjoys.
  • Schedule a virtual meal and or visit. Consider having a special meal delivered to your loved one at a specific time and share it via a virtual visit.
  • Play a game together from a distance. Make sure your loved one has the exact same game and schedule a time for a phone call or video chat to play together.
  • Create a family book club! Provide your loved one with the book – maybe a children’s book they can read aloud to a child or a book they can read and talk about with an older child or adult.
  • Window to window caroling! Consider this spin on the traditional holiday favorite.
  • Posting signs outside their window or decorating their ground-floor window for the holidays.

Officials suggested checking with the activities director about other residents who may not have families that could be “adopted,” to receive care packages and cards. Carrington added that the facility will try to provide devices to residents without their own for Zoom or Facetime meetings. He encouraged individuals to call to inquire about specific needs for their loved ones as well as general needs for other residents.