Yes, it is fall, which means we are approaching the holiday season. The retail stores are crowded with holiday decorations, which, ultimately, poses the question, “Should we decorate our living space when we are a caregiver?”

Some people ask, “Why should we decorate for the holidays when the patient is terminal? Will they even care?”

Decorating Can Help Lift the Mood

We can’t make such conclusions based on the patient’s condition. Terminal or not, they are alive, and, maybe, able to appreciate the gesture. They may not be able to express themselves, or they may choose not to, so we might never know the impact of our few simple decorations.

But, if they can and want to, they could help choose the decorations, or even make some simple ornaments themselves. Wherever possible, we can encourage them to participate in the festivities.

The sight of a favorite knick-knack, the smell of pumpkin and spice or the memory of holiday music may brighten their mood and remind them of their youth or childhood. These may not be significant to us, and it may seem like extra work, but if it brings joy, it is worth the time and effort.

This might even spark a conversation about memories of holidays past, and we could decide to record those memories.

Visitors who come to our house during the holiday season will also appreciate the added festive atmosphere. Chances are, it will lift our spirits also. The benefits are great, and the cost is little, if any.

Decorating Tips for Merry Holidays

Here are my five tips about decorating near a patient or disabled person, with some safety issues to remember:

Tip #1: Start with the Door

Always start with the door! Your neighbors and visitors will appreciate decorations on the outside, but why not also decorate the inside so your loved one can appreciate it more often. This could even be the bedroom door or closet door – whichever is in their line of sight most often.

Tip #2: Unclutter the Floor

If your patient or loved one has mobility issues, you need to keep the floor clear of extra obstacles. Opt for putting things up on tables or chairs – even if you’ve always had them on the floor in years past.

A throw rug can always be placed on the back of a chair or sofa, or even used as a table runner. Standing decorations can be placed on book shelves or tops of chests, or on a chair in the corner.

Tip #3: Take Extra Care with Candles & Flames

You must be very careful of candles and open flames. An alternative would be a candle warmer that is flameless. This prevents your patient from knocking it over and a fire ensuing. There will not be a flame, but the scent will be pleasant.

Or you can purchase LED candles that simulate a flame. If, however, you choose to light real candles, you must constantly monitor the flame for safety.

Tip #4: Make the Decorations Easy to See

If your patient is bed-ridden or mostly immobile, it would be a good idea to place the decorations at eye level or above. You can also add pieces near their bed or on their favorite chair for a constant reminder of the season.

Consider purchasing one new piece with a seasonal theme to stay close to their head – a new pillow, a pillow case, a stuffed animal. If appropriate, even give it a name! This new element adds an excitement to the season. It doesn’t have to be something expensive, just appropriate and interesting.

Tip #5: Make It Simple!

Remember, a few simple pieces are often more effective than decorating the entire house. This will minimize the work for your, while giving your loved one several things to focus on without the sensory overload. Let’s be selective.

Don’t Just Focus on the Inside

In addition to the inside of the house or apartment, if your loved one’s bedroom has a window to the outside, you might hang a bird-house so the they can have a new focus for their attention. Fall and winter are great seasons to watch and feed birds.

You can also hang appropriate holiday decorations outside the window in a tree. This will make looking outside even more enjoyable.

Give the Season a Chance

We often get caught up in the business of taking care, and many times there is not much energy or time left for extra things, such as decorating.

However, just a few simple ornaments can lift the spirits, making what might have been an ordinary time, into a special season of the year. We can make a difference in our loved one’s live and ours with a small amount of extra effort.

Sometimes, we who care for a terminal patient tend to think this might be their last holiday season. The truth, however, is that it could be the last season for any of us.

For that reason, no matter who we are, no matter what’s the date, let’s celebrate each new day, each new month and each new season.

What kinds of decorations are you putting up this year? Are you going all out or focusing on a few simple, but effective, pieces? Please share your decorating ideas and any safety tips that come in mind!

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