For many people, the winter season is a time to be with family. If your family includes someone in hospice care, you may think your options for fun activities are limited — true, your family member probably won’t be sledding down a snowy hill, but listening to holiday songs or enjoying a seasonal meal are certainly options for many.
Try some of these ideas now that the weather is getting cooler and the snow is just around the corner. Some of these can be done outdoors, but there are also options for people who are less active or who are bed-bound but still want to enjoy the cold weather months.
Make sure you talk with your loved one’s Centrica Care Navigators care team about your plans for wintertime fun. It’s important that what you intend to do is physically, mentally, and emotionally appropriate for your family member or friend. Your nurse, hospice aide, or other care team member can help you identify what might be most fitting for your loved one this holiday season.
Listening to holiday songs is a favorite for many people, and some who are more adventurous might even want to sing themselves! Centrica Care Navigators music therapists regularly play and sing with patients. Some enjoy hymns and religious music. Others prefer classic songs like “Frosty the Snowman” and “Jingle Bells.”
Music helps patients strengthen their listening and keeps them interacting with others. It’s simply fun for them to see their children and grandchildren singing along too.
Activities like trivia or bingo are another way to keep patients engaged with the people around them. They may need help placing pieces on a game board or pressing the right buttons on a video game. But they will appreciate the opportunity to sit side-by-side with a family member or friend to solve puzzles or overcome challenges in a game.
End-of-the-year holidays like Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas are known for many things, and one of the biggest is the food. A special holiday meal will really be memorable for a hospice patient — even if they don’t eat much, it’s often a time when family members who aren’t around often come together. For many, that may be more important than the food.
Check with your loved one’s care team before sharing food with someone in hospice care. Their diet may be limited, or they might need assistance with eating or drinking.
For many people, buying gifts is an important part of the holidays, and for some, just shopping is fun, even without spending any money. If a loved one can get out of the house, a trip to local stores or a nearby shopping mall can be an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.
Thanks to your phone and the internet, you can even go “window shopping” with your loved one right where you are. As with many of these ideas, the important thing isn’t finding the right gift; it’s spending time with loved ones.
Enjoy the outdoors — from the indoors
There’s a reason that cats and dogs like looking out the window. Sure, they’re happy to see you come home, but they also like watching everything outside from the comfort (and in the winter, the warmth) of the house or apartment.
Try birdwatching from where you sit, or check a book or an app to learn about the trees in your very own yard. Research has found that being in nature, or even just looking at the outdoors through a window, helps people feel more relaxed and even happy.
At Centrica Care Navigators, patients often share their stories with their care team (and our volunteers in the form of Story Catcher, where their talks are recorded as a keepsake for their family).
Stories of what happened when they were young, or their time serving in the military, or the reason they have been fishing for more than 50 years and plan to keep fishing as long as they can— just sitting with your loved one and asking them questions while the snow falls outside can be a memorable experience for both you and them.