The holiday season is upon us and brings with it numerous opportunities for turning typical days at your community into seasonal experiences. While some may go to the homes of their family, many seniors will stay in the nursing homes missing traditions they used to share with their loved ones.
Preparing for this day is important so as to ensure that seniors enjoy their stay and give them an opportunity to give thanks for the great things that have happened in their lives.
1. Set up a gratitude tree.
The whole point of Thanksgiving is to consider and share what you’re most thankful for. You can start that part of the celebration early, by setting up a tree in one of your community’s shared spaces that residents can hang notes on that say what they’re thankful about. On Thanksgiving Day, you can pull the notes down and share them with the whole group.
2. Have a family recipe competition.
Everyone’s got their own family traditions and, while there’s probably some overlap in what your residents’ families have typically made for Thanksgiving, there are probably some unique family recipes that bring back fond memories for the individuals in the home. Let everyone submit their favorites and share them with the group to take a vote. The items that win will get made for the Thanksgiving feast on the big day.
3. Write thank you letters.
Musing on what you’re thankful for is one thing, letting the people in your life that have helped make it better know how much they mean to you is another. You could do this anytime in November, but it might have the most impact if you time it so the letters will likely arrive on or around Thanksgiving Day. You can add a craft component to the letter writing by encouraging your residents to make some Thanksgiving-themed homemade stationary.
4. Make festive decorations.
Fun, festive and simple decorations can keep you busy, bring out a creativeness, and bring a lot of life to the environment. Some ideas are:
-Make gourd turkeys: Combine two of the most popular symbols of fall with these Thanksgiving gourd turkeys that can be used to decorate your lobby and dining area. They can add some color and cuteness to the space, and the template provided makes getting the craft just right easy for any seniors that choose to participate.
-Make a felted acorn garland: Colorful felted acorns can get you in the autumn spirit (especially if you stick with traditional fall colors like brown, orange, and yellow) and give your seniors something productive to work on for an afternoon. If you string them together into a garland, you have a handy decoration for any room in the assisted living facility.
-Make Thanksgiving place cards: In preparation for the big day, invite your craft-inclined residents to help you make some adorable turkey placecards for everyone who will be attending the Thanksgiving meal. These can be made from a few simple materials, including apples, almonds, and peanuts (be warned, you may be tempted to do some healthy snacking while working).
5. Try some new, simple recipes.
Whether cooking and baking for your loved ones, close friends or just for yourself, trying new, fun and simple holiday recipes is a great way to get into the Thanksgiving mood and also gives yourself and other delicious treats to enjoy. Besides, the best part of this holiday is food, well besides being with loved ones, of course J Below is one recipe to try:
Easy Apple Cake- Only 3 Ingredients!
- 1 box (18.25 oz.) yellow cake mix
- 1 can (21 oz.) apple pie filling
- 4 eggs
- )Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a baking dish (9×13 in) with cooking spray and set aside.
- )In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients with a mixer until thoroughly combined. The mixer will help break up the apple pieces. Pour into the baking dish.
- )Bake 35-40 Minutes or until a toothpick or fork inserted near the center tests clean. Allow cake to cool slightly before serving.
-You can add some whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon for a little extra oomph, or maybe a scoop of Vanilla ice cream.
*Note about this recipe*- You will NOT need the ingredients listed on the cake mix box. Just the three ingredients listed above.
6. Have a Thanksgiving dinner celebration.
Everything else on the list has been leading up to this. Use the crafts your residents have made to decorate the celebration. Prepare the recipes shared and voted on by everyone in the facility. And bring out the gratitude tree to start the discussion of things people are thankful for.
Encourage your residents to be as involved and engaged in the proceedings as possible. Invite seniors to help with cooking and setting the room up, and encourage everyone to bring an idea of 3-5 things they’re thankful for to share.
There’s no reason that being in an assisted living home should mean you have a Thanksgiving that feels any less celebratory and cozy than those spent with family over the years. By incorporating activities in keeping with the season and encouraging your residents to be involved, you can keep the beloved tradition alive for them.
No matter what is going on, don’t forget your loved ones and others at assisted living and nursing home facilities. The holidays are an important time to show those we love and those who may be alone or in need, that we are here for them and we can do small things to make them feel the holiday cheer.