Your visit to a nursing home can help depression

posted Dec 7, 2015, 7:27 AM by Mary Peck

It’s time for the holidays and thoughts of helping others enter our hearts. It’s a time of helping and giving. Remember, there are many nursing home residents that have very few or no visitors. Statistics prove that 60% of nursing home residents never have a personal visitor. Why not take an hour during the holidays, go visit a nursing home and receive blessings from the residents? Visitors don’t have to know a resident to be able to brighten someone’s day. Visits from pets, following the facility’s guidelines, may also bring joy.

Some holiday gift suggestions for residents might include money to get their hair fixed by the beautician, house shoes, slipper socks, large print books, lap blankets, puzzles, pictures for their walls, sweat suits, robes, gowns or pajamas, night-lights, large calendars, clocks or stuffed animals.  Residents may also enjoy a prepaid shopping card to the local discount store or an invitation to a meal at a restaurant or the visitor’s home. Just giving a little time could be the greatest Christmas gift that residents could receive.

Ombudsman volunteers often see first-hand how the holidays affect residents. For many, the holiday season is a joyful time; however, for some, it can be sad and even depressing. Barbara Davis has been an ombudsman volunteer with the South Western Oklahoma Development Authority for over 15 years, taking time each week to visit residents. “It can be a sad time,” said Davis. “I visited the first part of the week with several ladies who were very lonesome and weren’t going to get to see their families for the holidays. It really helps when someone takes even just ten minutes to stop and visit them.”

Even with holiday decorations, activities and entertainment available, some residents may choose not to participate, which can lead to more feelings of loneliness or sadness. “Outside groups, activities and entertainment do help, but the main thing they need right now is more one-on- one attention,” said Davis. “I recently learned more about one resident’s Christmas during the dust bowl. It’s fascinating to hear their stories, so full of history. Together we can offer gratitude and love.  Individually we are a drop. Together we are an ocean.”

The SWODA Ombudsman Program serves nursing homes in Beckham, Custer, Greer, Harmon, Jackson, Kiowa, Roger Mills and Washita Counties. For more information about the Ombudsman Program or to become a volunteer in your area, contact Gail Wilcox at 800-627-4882, ext. 132.