Merry, Merry Ideas for In-home Seniors

Here are some tips for helping elders through the holidays when they are stuck in the house or in-bed…from francy Dickinson

Our Holiday Home in Washington State

Dear Francy: Mother is nearing her end, she is in bed full-time and can only see out to the back yard. This holiday is pretty sad for us. Do you have some ideas for those stuck in their bedrooms?

The end of life journey is never easy…but making it a joy in bits and pieces is something we can all achieve if we give it our creative thoughts. So here are ideas that I have used and the elders have found enjoyable.


  1. If a bedroom is by the bathroom, it’s a great place to put the special hospital bed. But if the home has more  activity or a view from the front of the house…move over that sofa and put the hospital bed in that front room.
  2. Once a hospital bed is ordered from hospice, it is usually understood that there is a three-month care range for the elder to experience. So, this move of putting the bed into a special room with a view, or a large TV or just where the action is —-is a great choice. You can also move the bed around in the bedroom to face a window so they have a view…when they are bed-bound.
  3. Often commodes have to be used anyway…walking to the bathroom is a trip that becomes too long- even if it is within 20 steps. So, don’t worry…just pick a place the elder would feel good to be in during the day and nite.  (If you have to move furniture…do it!  Take it out to the garage or basement area so there is room for the senior to get up and move around to a chair or commode with their walker or wheelchair.)


Outside Light Show for Elders

  • Set up an outside light display for the Elder’s window…so during the day they have a small tree in their room —but at night the lights become a fairyland outside their windows. Seniors often have trouble sleeping nights– with pain and worry–so a lovely outside display really makes it special.
  • If you don’t have a holiday light display; ask around, get a friend or a neighbor to share their display of tree, deers, etc with you for this holiday season
  • After the holiday add a peanut feeder for the squirrels or a birdfeeder for the birds in a cold winter weather -that way the activity of the window and view gives the senior a way to meditate and rest
  • You can leave little fairy lights on after the holiday to go through the cold and snow of the winter. Just a little twinkle lights on a bush or tree by the window adds wonder


  • When you feed the Elder their dinner, or do their night-time procedures—turn on the holiday music. This is a great way of celebrating old memories and holiday traditions, to surround the senior in music. Find a Traditional Holiday Music channel on your Dish or Cable, or find a local radio station that features holiday music through the week before Christmas.
  • Ask a friend, or a neighbor to include your senior in their cookie list. So the senior gets the flavor of homemade cookies and each evening has a nice treat to enjoy before bed. Add cocoa in a nice fun Santa mug and peppermint candy cane sticking out the top of their morning coffee.
  • Take note of the different holiday traditional programs on the TV. Just like you would with the kids, think of your seniors and make sure they are able to enjoy the specials. The favorite movies would be; Miracle on 32nd Street, White Christmas and many more. Each year different singers have specials and there are cartoon specials like; “Charlie Brown’s Christmas” that add a happy note to the day.
  • Note that ordering a new TV Dish or cable so the senior has a variety of channels to enjoy when they are bed-bound is a caring thing.
  • Think about the senior’s heritage. Our family has a Danish Christmas Bread flavored with cardamom and my mother always looked forward to it. There are other traditions of cookies and different dishes that are special for the holidays. Taking time to ask; what is a good memory for the senior???  is a perfect way to add love to the difficult time of illness over holiday time.
  • Do not forget those gifts; a pair of slippers, a new robe, a fun hat or throw to keep the senior warm…all of those are usable and kind to give as a healing joy.  Never forget that all seniors love chocolates…and chocolate dipped fruit, or small seedless mandarin oranges or sweet apples.
  • Watch things that are hard to chew because most people in pain do not have good teeth


  • Asking a local church if they would visit with a caroling group, or young people dropping off some soup- or holiday treats…would all be appreciated.
  • Family members that are very small could dress up and bring over a nice arrangement of greens so the house smells great and the kids can play in front of Grandma.
  • A telephone listing can be made special if someone shares their SKYPE with Grandma and she can ‘SEE’ grandchildren or great grandchildren from a far.
  • A scanner can be used in the elder’s living room and pictures placed on a thumb drive so the family has copies of old pictures. Then place the thumb drive in a slide show frame so the elder can see old pictures run through their show —each evening.
  • Teens can bring over their laptops or tablets and let grandpa see his old house on Google Earth, or view the lights on Broadway, or pic out a cam-pic from their old village in their parent’s home in Europe or Asia. Even more ideas from those that love their Internet…yeah…fun stuff.

Home bound, bed bound, does not mean…that you cannot open the world of love and memories for the senior in care…give it your creative ideas. You may just make their holiday the best they ever had…blessings, francy

Hey stay tuned for my two new care giving books…they are due out in January…

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Thank you…and Happy Holidays…francy