Happy Monday Visionaries! Can y’all believe it’s already November? My how time flies. Let’s talk about a demographic of folks that are near and dear to my heart~ the elders and all the folks living with debilitating diseases in hospitals, nursing homes and rehabilitation centers across the nation who are not able to come home for the holidays or any day soon going forward.
Many of us are going to be getting busy preparing for the fast approaching holidays in anticipation of an onslaught of good friends, family, foods, drinks and an overindulgence regret or two, the morning after:) But, in all of our merriment, let’s not forget the importance of sharing, caring and taking time out to visit with the sick and shut-end; people in hospitals, nursing homes, homeless shelters and senior facilities, who either can’t get a pass to go home for the holidays with family or who don’t have a home to go home to.
The one thing that I’m taking away from my longstanding nursing career is the belief that my compassion and companionship to the elderly helped aid in their healing, comfort and periods of lucid awareness. Dementia and Alzheimer’s wrecked havoc on the many patients under my nursing care during the last nine years of my career, but a gentle touch and welcoming smile always seemed to lift the cloud of foggy brain matter to bring some semblance of clarity to their reality.
I’m not trying to take away the value of physician prescribed treatment-regimen via/medications/ therapies and so forth that are main components in restoring healing and a degree of functioning ability to patients with brain abnormalities and other illnesses, but as a participant in areas of patient care and treatment, I know that a natural healing comes about through those simple acts of kindness that so many of us take for granted. As the holidays are fast approaching, people are gearing up to visit hospitals, senior care facilities and nursing homes and that makes for a great time to be had by all, patient and visitor alike. These seasonal visitations, particularly tend to turn the flicker of an elder’s life into a flame of gratitude and joy.
The value of these regular and holiday impromptu visits from friends, family and caring strangers in relation to the healthy benefits that inspire cognitive periods of alertness and responsiveness on the mind and hearts of seemingly ‘forgotten’ folks cannot be stressed enough. If you want to sow seeds of kindness, caring and comfort this season and the new year ahead, go ahead and visit these institutions. Bring gifts if you’d like, but the gift of your presence is immeasurable.
Tip on Elder Gift Giving:
The season for holiday greetings and ushering in good cheer and joyful tidings are upon us. What a treat for the sick and elderly in hospitals and nursing homes and for the gift giver; it does the heart good. If you’re a layperson and not familiar with the rules of patient gift giving in these institutions, here are a few tips to keep in mind when preparing your elder gift bag:
1. Always call to speak with a hospital or facility administrator to share your intent. You will, in turn, be informed of visiting hours appropriate to patient’s ADL (activities of daily living) where patient’s bath, meals and activities come into play. Although there are routine visiting hours, most visitors will want to allow for the patient morning care routine which includes/bathing/toileting/breakfast.
The nursing staff can direct you to the appropriate and convenient times for your visit. Patients love their meal times,however, so try to time your visits, either before or after meals. (family often come to help the staff with feeding or bathing their family members, which is an interaction that is highly encouraged)
2. By the time they’re into their golden years,most patients do not have their natural teeth, but have upper and lower dentures. Oftentimes,there are some foods/treats they will find hard pressed to bite into. Bananas and other palpable fruits and soft foods should be considered.
3. A majority of a hospital and nursing home residents are diagnosed diabetics. Before handing out gift bags of hard candies and other sugary foods. Consider diabetic candies as a substitute. Always stop by the nurses station and ask if your gifts are acceptable. I have witnessed cases where patient family members fail to get clearance on foods they bring in to a patient that have caused diabetic blood sugars to spike at dangerously high levels. Do your part by doing the right thing and ask.
4. Some great gift items for patient ‘s includes, books, puzzles, socks, slippers, denture creams and adhesives ( again inform the nurse of personal items so s/he can place them inside the drawer of the person’s bedside table) flowers placed at the bedside or a colorful plant for their windowsill.
5. No shaving items or sharpies recommended in cases where dementia & Alzheimer patients can harm themselves if unattended.
I hope that the upcoming holidays find you happy, hopeful and humbled by the goodness of God’s blessings at work in your life. Always treat yourself special and continue to sow seeds of comfort and kindness.