Visiting a loved one in a nursing home or hospital during the holidays? Here’s a simple guide to making it a memorable visit.During the holidays, our residents and patients look forward to visits by family and friends. The holiday season is filled with fond memories and celebrations. Science has taught us that if we think about and visualize a positive and enjoyable experience, even if it happened years ago, the same area of our brain lights up. Science has also taught us that when we experience enjoyable events, we produce endorphins, which are our body’s healing chemicals. A holiday visit filled with good memories and love might just be the best medicine!Here is a list of the top three ways to make a holiday visit meaningful and enjoyable:
- Think about a few different experiences you have shared with the patient that were positive, fun and enjoyable. As you discuss the experience, use descriptive words such as “I remember you were wearing that beautiful red silk dress,” or “I remember how handsome you were in your Navy uniform,” or “I loved that delicious vanilla pudding you used to make. I can just smell that vanilla!” There is no end to the topics you can discuss related to shared memories: recipes, games, sports, movies, vacations.
- Bring photographs. A picture is definitely worth a thousand words, however, use those thousand words to help residents and patients remember the event that was captured in the photo. Stimulate sensory recall shown in the photo:
- What do you see in this photo? (recall the colors of the scene, or the color of the fur on a pet cat, etc.)
- What were the sounds that you heard when the photo was taken? (e.g. if it was on a beach, recall the sound of the waves or the seagulls, etc.)
- What were the scents you remember when the photo was taken? (e.g. remembering the scent of a perfume or aftershave, flowers, freshly cut grass, etc.)
- Bring memorabilia. Perhaps you have an award, a trophy, a piece of jewelry, a military medal, or a collectable. Bring it and discuss the event and memory that the item brings to mind.