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Winter and Holiday Tips for Nursing Home Residents

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If your loved one is spending the holidays in a long-term care facility, here are some tips and gift ideas to maintain their well-being.

The winter months can pose many issues for residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. At this time of year, nursing home residents often face emotional, physical and environmental challenges that can significantly affect their health and well-being. While long-term care facilities have a responsibility to protect residents from harm, understaffing and other institutional issues frequently force loved ones to advocate on a resident’s behalf.

If your loved one will be spending time in a long-term care facility this holiday season, a few things can be done to help maintain their physical and emotional health all season long.

Three Things to Watch for During the Winter and Holiday Months

- Isolation: During the holidays, isolation can have a profound effect on a resident’s physical and mental health. Decreased mobility, coupled with busy or occupied friends and family around the holidays can leave many residents feeling lonely or depressed. Many facilities are quick to administer medication such as antidepressants and other psychotropic drugs that do little to aid the underlying problem of isolation, often leaving residents overmedicated. It is recommended for loved ones to plan regular visits, calls or even consider outings during the holidays. If the facility has holiday events, encourage your loved one to attend or, if possible, go with them to the event.

- Dehydration: Dehydration is a common and dangerous condition for nursing home residents and is often exacerbated by the dry heat coming from facility heating systems. Residents may refrain from drinking especially when staff members fail to help them drink or assist them to use the restroom in a timely manner. It is critical facilities prevent dehydration that can cause weakness or dizziness and can contribute to falls and fractures. It can also contribute to urinary tract and other infections.

- The Cold/Heat Loss: Less active, residents do not feel the temperature changes during the winter as quickly and are at greater risk of injury as a result. Heat loss is associated with increased fall risks, slower metabolisms, stiffness, increased arthritic pain and breathing difficulty. Long-term care facilities must maintain a climate that is both conducive to health, as well as comfort.

With these factors in mind, there are several great holiday gifts that can have a meaningful impact on your loved one’s well-being during the holidays. Keep in mind that long-term care facilities often have rules and restrictions regarding the types of personal items that are allowed in a facility. Theft is also a common problem in shared living spaces, so make sure to avoid valuable gifts.  

Holiday Gift Ideas for Residents

  • Photos or calendars with pictures of a resident’s youth, family and friends can be very uplifting gifts.
  • Easy-to-use water bottles may help encourage proper hydration.
  • Comfortable nonslip socks and slippers are a good option to maintain warmth and prevent slips and falls.
  • Holiday decorations (as permitted by the facility) can provide some cheer to your loved one’s room.
  • Homemade items will bring smiles, especially those from grandchildren.
  • Colorful blankets can provide added warmth and color to the room.

Maintaining the health and well-being of residents should be a top priority in any quality nursing home, even during the busy holiday months. But in the event that a facility is failing to meet the resident’s needs in a way that negatively affects their quality of life, consider speaking to the administration about your concerns. If they fail to help or make needed changes, then you may wish to consult with a nursing home abuse and neglect attorney like Hupy and Abraham.

Contact Hupy and Abraham with any questions at 800-800-5678 or start a live chat anytime at Hupy.com.

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