Reader Poll: How do you make the holidays special for your residents?

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“At Levindale, to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Chanukah, the eight-day Festival of Lights, we light the menorah, community choirs sing, and we have intergenerational programs. Our residents show off their talents by playing Chanukah songs on the piano or playing the bells in the Bell Tones choir. Of course, we also have a Chanukah party with potato latkes (pancakes), reminiscing and more singing!”

— Rabbi Jeffrey Orkin, Director of Pastoral Care, Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital, Baltimore


"At Walker Methodist Health Center, we spend the holidays with a fundraiser called Give a Little Gift. We raise money and items that we can put together for a personalized gift bag for all residents during the holiday season. For many, this is the only gift they receive. Residents love the personalized aspect of the bags. One resident opened up her bag to find Peeps, her favorite candy. Another one received a hat with buttons that she had been hoping for. It's magical for the gift givers, the bag packers and the recipients!”

— Cathy Schutt, CTRS, Director of Therapeutic Programs, Walker Methodist Health Center, Minneapolis

“Celebrate birthdays on residents' birthdays — not once a month for everyone's birthday. Also, Christmas is December 25th — not the Friday before.”

— Richard Fields, retired CEO, Knoxville, TN

“We incorporate many special events to give our residents the opportunity to keep traditions alive and spend time with their loved ones. From ‘trick-or-treat' at Halloween to holiday dinners where the resident can invite as many of their family as they choose, holidays are a wonderful way to honor rituals. We look forward to our Christmas Nativity Pageant, acted out by our residents.”

—  Rebecca Schmidt, Certified Activities Director, The Alverno Health Care Facility, Clinton, IA

“Each year, we have our own special holiday traditions at The Terraces of Boise. We want to create opportunities for residents and their families to make new memories. Every year we host an extravagant decorating party in which we all come together to add some holiday cheer and warmth throughout the community. This year, we will start a new tradition for our residents, one that is a surprise. Team members will draw residents' names and connect on a personal level to learn more about them and their passions. They will then play Secret Santa and pick out a unique gift that they will present to each resident. We have never done this before and believe the residents will be truly surprised and touched.”

— Jud Severns, Executive Director, The Terraces at Boise, Boise, ID