As the autumn leaves begin to fall, just about everyone gets excited for Thanksgiving, a time traditionally marked by warmth, gratitude, and family gatherings. Yet, for many seniors residing in nursing homes, this period can feel starkly contrasting, amplifying feelings of isolation and loneliness. This is especially true when they are subject to emotional neglect and abuse from nursing home staff, turning what should be a season of joy into a holiday they might rather skip. With support from their loved ones, though, more seniors in nursing homes can begin to enjoy Thanksgiving again.
Why Thanksgiving Can Feel Especially Lonely for Elders
During Thanksgiving, the contrast between the festive atmosphere of the country and the isolated spaces within a nursing home can be especially pronounced for an elderly resident. The thought of families coming together might lead to feelings of abandonment, loneliness, and sadness. These feelings will be exacerbated if the senior has limited contact with their family members or if their physical or mental health impedes them from participating in group activities organized by the home.
Furthermore, nursing homes that do not prioritize emotional care can unintentionally contribute to these feelings of isolation. Seniors require meaningful social interaction and emotional support as much as anyone else, and when these needs are not met, it can result in feelings of neglect and emotional distress. This is why it's crucial for nursing homes to create an environment that fosters connection and engagement, especially during the Thanksgiving season.
What Nursing Homes Do & Don’t Do to Emotionally Isolate Elders
By its nature, nursing home neglect is not something that happens intentionally. As a result, a nursing home could unintentionally contribute to the emotional isolation of elderly residents during the Thanksgiving season. Unfortunately, there is also always the chance that caretakers or other staff members of a nursing home could intentionally emotionally abuse an elder, perhaps through a displacement of their own lonely feelings around Thanksgiving.
Ways a nursing home might emotionally abuse or socially isolate an elderly resident include:
- Limited social activities: Some nursing homes may not organize enough social activities that are tailored to the needs and abilities of their residents during the festive season. This lack of engagement can leave elderly residents feeling left out and isolated.
- Inadequate staffing: During holidays like Thanksgiving, there might be a shortage of staff as many could be on leave. This could lead to decreased attention and care for the residents, adding to feelings of loneliness and neglect.
- Impersonal environment: A nursing home that does not make an effort to create a homely, festive atmosphere could add to feelings of being forgotten or overlooked. The absence of personal touches such as decorations, holiday food, or music can make residents feel disconnected from the outside world.
- Ignoring emotional needs: If the staff at nursing homes fail to recognize or address the emotional needs of their residents, it can lead to feelings of neglect. Emotional abuse in the form of indifference, dismissiveness, or lack of empathy can be as harmful as physical abuse and could be grounds for a nursing home abuse lawsuit.
How Families Can Restore the Spirit of Thanksgiving for Elders
Family members play a crucial role in restoring the spirit of Thanksgiving for elders living in nursing homes. You should coordinate with your family members now to see who can help make the holiday season brighter for your loved ones who live in nursing homes or assisted living centers.
A few ways you can bring back the festive cheer of Thanksgiving for your elderly loved ones are:
- Regular check-ins: Frequent remote check-ins via phone calls, video calls, or even emails can make a significant difference in the quality of life of seniors. These interactions can help them feel connected to their loved ones and the outside world. Sharing updates about Thanksgiving plans or remembering past celebrations can lift their spirits.
- Virtual celebrations: If in-person visits are not possible due to travel or health restrictions, consider organizing a virtual Thanksgiving celebration. This could involve sharing a meal over a video call, watching a favorite movie together online, or playing a game. The key is to engage them in activities that they enjoy and can participate in comfortably.
- Send care packages: Sending care packages filled with favorite foods, books, photos, or personal items can bring a touch of home to the nursing home environment. Around the holidays, there’s no better time for such a thoughtful gift.
- Encourage participation in nursing home activities: Encourage your loved one to participate in any social activities organized by the nursing home, which could be something as simple as a nursing home-wide Thanksgiving dinner in the dining hall.
- Share gratitude: Thanksgiving is about expressing gratitude. Share what you're thankful for about your loved one and encourage them to do the same.
When There’s Trouble, Call a Lawyer
Sometimes, elderly residents in a nursing home can feel lonely around Thanksgiving because they remember celebrations gone by, or they might just not like the holidays much anymore. But when an elder feels emotionally isolated due to the neglect or intentional wrongdoing of the nursing home, legal action should be taken.
Contacting a nursing home abuse attorney is crucial if you suspect your loved one is being emotionally isolated or abused during Thanksgiving, beyond just experiencing typical holiday loneliness. An attorney can provide valuable legal advice, help gather evidence, and build a strong case to advocate for your loved one's rights. Importantly, they can seek compensation for any harm suffered, which can be used to cover therapy costs, medical bills, and more. Taking this legal action not only seeks justice for your loved one but also brings attention to abusive practices, potentially leading to reforms that prevent future abuse or neglect in nursing homes.
Need the help of a skilled and compassionate nursing home abuse lawyer in New Mexico? Contact Harvey & Foote Law Firm now. We have focused our practice on nursing home abuse and neglect lawsuits throughout the state, so you can trust that we know how to get the results your family needs to feel safe again. To talk with our attorneys directly, call (505) 295-2245 at any time.