Visiting Nurse Journal: Christmas

I’m glad Christmas is over. As I visited each of my patients during this holiday season, I saw how hard it was for them to celebrate Christmas. For the elderly, Christmas is a harsh reminder of the losses they have faced in their lives. Most of them don’t bother with decorations now. Only two of my patients had Christmas trees: one was in the home where my patient lived with her son and another was in a home of an elderly couple who was looking forward to their only child spending Christmas with them. Christmas is a lonely time for the elderly who live by themselves. Some of my patients had places to go for Christmas but didn’t feel they had the strength to be a part of a large family gathering. Loneliness, isolation, and sadness keep the elderly company during this time of year. During my visits, I encourage them to share their memories of past Christmas’. One lady told me of the excitement she had as a child when she received a stocking filled with an orange, an apple, some walnuts, and two pennies. She recalled that time as being such a happy one. Another woman told me of Christmas in Austria where she grew up. Children would go house to house at Christmas to ask for candy. These memories bring a smile to their faces. I laugh with them as they tell me a funny incident from their childhood. I hug them as I leave ever in awe of the time we have just spent with each other.

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