The holidays conjure up images of delicious meals, festive lights, and classic movies. However, the holiday festivities also come with their share of stress; and that’s more true than ever now during COVID-19.

For seniors, the holidays can feel especially nostalgic, bringing to mind memories of happier, younger times. This also comes with a sense of loss: of youth, of friends, and of loved ones. And in a season when many seniors have been more isolated than normal because of the pandemic, your elderly loved ones may feel like they’re missing out or don’t have much to celebrate.

If you’re looking for ways to reduce stress and bring some extra joy to your loved ones this holiday season, these tips can help.

Be realistic. Know your senior’s limitations, as well as your own. Try to set reasonable expectations before going on an outing, and don’t forget that your loved one might need to be especially cautious about exposure to COVID-19.

Watch your body language. So often, our elderly relatives feel like they’re a burden. You may be exhausted and impatient, but be careful not to show it. Take deep breaths, relax your shoulders, uncross your arms, smile often, and give little hugs. Let your loved ones feel like you have all the time in the world.

Think outside the box. So your mother wants to Christmas shop, but she’s immunocompromised and shouldn’t be out in the crowds? Bring a laptop, snuggle up next to her on the sofa with a steaming cup of hot tea, and do some online shopping.

Be a good listener. Let’s face it: often the elderly have a lot to be sad about. Instead of reprimanding them for whining, or telling them to cheer up, invite your family member to talk about their feelings. Try saying things like, “I bet you’re missing your husband this year, aren’t you? How do you feel?” Listening validates their feelings.

Recall happy memories. After you’ve let your mother vent, transition her into a more positive conversation. Or redirect your father’s attention by asking him to recall funny anecdotes. If you have children or teens, urge them to ask their grandparents leading questions like, “Tell me about your first Christmas with Grandma.”

Let your elderly relative help. Everyone likes to feel useful, and that’s especially true of seniors. Make a mental list of everything that has to be done: applying bows to gifts, setting out placecards, peeling vegetables, hanging ornaments, setting tables. Then ask your loved one for help with one of these tasks.

Prevent over-stimulation and isolation. As odd as it sounds, a large family dining table can be a lonely place for an elderly person who cannot hear well. This is especially true if he has been living in a quiet environment, like an assisted living or nursing home. Seat your senior at the dining table at a position where they can hear well. Often the middle of the table is the most comforting spot. Sitting at the end of a table can cause noise distortion and the perception that everyone is talking at once.

Take turns being the “temporary caregiver” at family gatherings. It’s easy to get caught up in the laughter and conversation and busyness of a family event and leave the senior out. By assigning different relatives to take turns being the companion at these events, it ensures that your elderly relatives feel like they’re part of the festivities.

Maintain routines. If your mother or father is accustomed to an afternoon nap, make sure you budget time for it. Routines extend to meal times and portion sizes, as well. Too much on the plate can be overwhelming and lead to the senior just pushing the food around.

Get creative with your gifts. Sometimes it’s difficult to know what to purchase for your elderly relatives, especially when they’ve downsized. Look for gifts that will make their space more cozy or help them connect with their loved ones. Maybe your mother needs a warm, fuzzy throw for her bedroom. Add a few movies that the two of you can watch together, and you’ll have the perfect Christmas gift. Or maybe your father would love an easy-to-use mobile phone or tablet that he can use to FaceTime his grandkids. A great gift doesn’t need to be complicated, just make it heartfelt.

Above all, you can control the holiday chaos by budgeting time to enjoy special music together, snuggle by a fire, and just be together. That companionship is undoubtedly the greatest gift your special senior can receive this year.

NHC is proud to announce a new collaborative agreement with Motlow State Community College in Lynchburg, Tennessee. This agreement will add an additional nursing instructor and approximately ten more nursing student slots for the LPN to RN program at Motlow.   

“There is a national shortage of qualified nurses. This affects all healthcare settings, including NHC,’ said Melodie McCarver, recruiting director for NHC.  

Dr. Amy Holder, dean of Nursing and Allied Health for Motlow, added, “The agreement helps provide additional opportunities for LPNs to bridge to an RN.” 

With the increased demand for registered nurses, Motlow and NHC determined a need to provide a pathway for educating LPNs to become RNs within three to five years.  

“Through the Tennessee Foundation for Geriatric Education, NHC can assist with that funding,” explained McCarver. “It allows us to be part of the solution to the existing nursing shortage. In addition, adding an instructor will allow Motlow to increase the number of students admitted to the program and therefore, increase the number of nurses in the workforce available for hire by NHC and other health care providers.” 

“It allows us to train more RNs to fill open nursing positions,” explained Holder.  

The Nursing program offers a three-semester transition program for LPNs seeking to become Registered Nurses. Clinical activities are provided in campus classrooms, area hospitals, extended care facilities, and other health and community agencies. The majority of the clinical experiences are located within the College’s 11-county service area.  

Motlow’s nursing employment rate is 98 percent. In addition, the College offers a variety of scholarships for nursing students. These can be applied for within a single scholarship application system that allows students to apply for all nursing scholarships at one time. For more information, check out the nursing program on Motlow’s website 

Prospective college students and undecided college majors are encouraged to explore professional careers that are in high demand. Geriatric nursing is a high-demand field. Motlow advisors can help prospective students develop a college plan for entering this or any other high-demand field. 

 Motlow State fall classes begin August 23. Apply today to Motlow.com/apply. For more information regarding reduced costs for students, email info@mscc.edu or call 800-654-4877.  

NHC is proudly celebrating its 50th anniversary. Since 1971, NHC has developed a comprehensive continuum of care to continue to meet the healthcare needs of seniors in communities across ten states.

Dr. Carl Adams founded NHC in 1971 with a vision to create high quality healthcare specifically for seniors starting with 14 skilled nursing centers. Dr. Adams dreamed to create a campus concept that offered in-house services for seniors as they age with different needs much like the continuing care retirement communities today. Now with nearly 14,000 NHC partners (employees) across ten states, NHC provides care to thousands of seniors each day.

“Our key to success over the past 50 years is bringing talents from all different disciplines together to deliver the best quality care for our patients, residents, and their families,” said Steve Flatt, chief executive officer of NHC. “As a leader in senior care, NHC has developed the most comprehensive continuum of care. We provide skilled nursing, rehabilitation, long-term care, home care, assisted living, memory care, hospice, and inpatient geriatric psychiatric services. We are grateful for the opportunity to provide care in a better way for the past 50 years.”

Please take a moment to view this short message from Steve Flatt reflecting on NHC’s 50 years of caring.

NHC is proudly celebrating its 50th anniversary. Since 1971, NHC has developed a comprehensive continuum of care to continue to meet the healthcare needs of seniors in communities across ten states.

Dr. Carl Adams founded NHC in 1971 with a vision to create high quality healthcare specifically for seniors starting with 14 skilled nursing centers. Dr. Adams dreamed to create a campus concept that offered in-house services for seniors as they age with different needs much like the continuing care retirement communities today. Now with nearly 14,000 NHC partners (employees) across ten states, NHC provides care to thousands of seniors each day.

“Our key to success over the past 50 years is bringing talents from all different disciplines together to deliver the best quality care for our patients, residents, and their families,” said Steve Flatt, chief executive officer of NHC. “As a leader in senior care, NHC has developed the most comprehensive continuum of care. We provide skilled nursing, rehabilitation, long-term care, home care, assisted living, memory care, hospice, and inpatient geriatric psychiatric services. We are grateful for the opportunity to provide care in a better way for the past 50 years.”

Please take a moment to view this short message from Steve Flatt reflecting on NHC’s 50 years of caring.

We are pleased to announce that on June 11, 2021, NHC acquired the remaining interest in Caris Healthcare.  Caris provides hospice and palliative care to over 1,200 patients per day in 28 locations in Georgia, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.  Prior to the purchase, NHC owned a majority stake in Caris, but it will now be a wholly owned and consolidated subsidiary of NHC.

Caris specializes in providing hospice and palliative care to over 1,200 patients per day in 28 locations in Georgia, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. As a leading senior care provider, this acquisition is a strategic advancement of NHC’s growth of a continuum of care to seniors in our operational footprint.

“Caris has been a premier hospice and palliative care provider for many years.  We are honored to continue to provide these critical, compassionate services for patients and their families during such a challenging time in their lives,” said Steve Flatt, CEO.