Last Christmas (2017) was the first Christmas daddy spent in a nursing home, and I cried!! We had the typical Christmas, Stephen and I landed down to mums around 8pm as I was working and we all headed to the pub for some drinks! Christmas morning we got up (after mum wakening us) and opened presents. After we ate dinner my brother and I headed to the nursing home to see daddy with all his presents. Stephen had left at this point to see his family. When I walked in and saw daddy sitting in the day room I had to leave the room, I went over and gave him a hug and a kiss, wished him Merry Christmas and walked out telling him I needed to loo! I cried my heart out in the hallway of the nursing home, it was too much seeing daddy sitting with old people around him, he wasn’t having a good day and his speech was bad. It just seemed like overnight he had gotten worse. After I dried my eyes I went back in and opened presents with daddy, tried to chat him and spent some time with him. When the tea was being served Ryan and I decided to leave. Most nursing homes don’t like guests when the residents are eating etc as it can be distracting. I knew the nursing home was the best place for dad, and he was being well cared for, but I hated seeing my 51-year-old father in there. From Christmas to May dad was in three different nursing homes, he picked the one he liked the most to live permanently. If daddy wanted to try ten different nursing homes, I didn’t care as long as he was happy. His reason for leaving one was he didn’t get enough spuds. For those of you who are not from the Island of Ireland, spuds are potatoes.
In May dad decided he would stay in the nursing home he was in, he liked it. This year I am looking forward to seeing daddy in the nursing home, he loves it in there, better than others he had been in and I feel like he will be so happy to see us. I plan on going in and giving him a massive hug and spoiling him rotten with presents! Of course, I will bring daddy in some of my mum’s amazing pavlova! Which he loves!! Christmas can be difficult with a Huntington’s patient but find what works best for you. I have experienced different variations of Christmas with my family, being together and apart. One year my brother was in America and I had to look after daddy myself, honestly, I wasn’t comfortable feeding him myself but I managed. My brother needed a holiday! Do what works for your family, some may say Christmas is a time for family and I agree, we spent as much time with dad as possible, but he would get tired and fall asleep. I remember one year my brother and I snuck out of the house because dad had fallen asleep watching a movie, we checked on him later but he was tired from all the chatter, present opening and food.
If your loved one is at home, keep them involved but remember Huntington’s patients like peach and quiet as well, so don’t worry if they don’t want to be involved in everything. I will always give dad the option and ask him, sometimes he changes his mind last minute or half a dozen times, but have patience. Its Christmas, enjoy the day with your families and children!!
p.s almost every Christmas my brother ended up in a fight over, what time we were going to see dad, who was driving, who was carrying the plate of dinner, even getting out of bed in the morning to start opening presents. So don’t worry arguments on Christmas day are normal, I think I just had an amazing idea, I should ask my mum to do a tell-all blog about Christmas Day!!
Don’t load yourself with more pressure than you need to have the perfect day!!