December 21, 2012


Nursing homes lift holiday spirits

HolidayJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Homer sophomore Sarah Denkenberger, right, and Brewster House resident Josephine Brown exchange season greetings Thursday during a holiday party.

Staff Reporter

With the holiday season in full swing, staff at the Elizabeth Brewster House in Homer and Crown Center for Nursing & Rehabilitation on Kellogg Road are helping their residents find joy in a season that can be difficult for older adults.
“It’s sort of a sad time, especially for older people like me,” said Richard Hammond, an 89-year-old resident of the Brewster House for three years.
Both care facilities are combating blue Christmases with activities to lift their residents’ spirits, including caroling, parties and gift giving.
“What we like to do is get everybody participating in the events we have,” said Patrick Deptula, Crown Center for Nursing & Rehabilitation administrator.
At the Brewster House, residents are encouraged to join in the events as a family.
“We know everybody and we really make it a point to keep them involved,” said Michael Kilmer, the adult care facility’s administrator. “You’re really here to be part of the Brewster House family.”
The Brewster House tries to cater to the residents’ personal traditions, Kilmer said, including attending Mass or synagogue.
Activities at the nursing center are also based on residents’ backgrounds, including religious backgrounds, and what they are able to do, enjoy doing and have done in the past, Deptula said.
Among the traditions at the Brewster House is a secret Santa put on by the staff for residents at the adult home, Jessica Gilbert, an administrative assistant and admissions coordinator.
The Brewster House board of managers throws a Christmas party for the residents every year and buys a gift for each one, said Nancy Hansen, a board member. The board tries to hang on to holiday traditions and keep an upbeat, positive atmosphere, she said.
“They always decorate the house,” Kilmer said of the board.
At Crown Center for Nursing & Rehabilitation, staff arranged a Christmas party that residents enjoyed Friday.
The party was for residents, as well as family and community members, Deptula said.
“At our residents family party we had over 90 (people) participate,” he said.
When having a party, the nursing home puts together a cart with foods, decorations and music that staff, sometimes dressed in costume, take around to residents who cannot leave their rooms so they can take part in the festivities, Deptula said.
The staff makes sure residents who do not have relatives receive added visitation time and a gift or two to help keep their spirits up, Deptula said.
“The community in their generosity gives us gifts for the residents,” he said. “We make sure every resident has a gift.”
The holidays can actually boost residents’ moods and residents can be happier during the season than any other time of the year, Deptula said.
“There’s a lot more smiles,” he said.


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