Holidays are traditionally a time that we want to go home and celebrate with loved ones.
You might think of sharing a large family meal, greeting each other with warm hugs, or travelling across the country to see family and spending days together. This may not be able to happen this year.
For the sake of your senior loved ones you might need to reconsider your holiday traditions.
You can still see each other, and you can still show love and you can still create meaningful memories. This year you will need to choose to look at the holidays differently. Look for what you can do and how you can celebrate safely.
6 Factors to Consider When Planning a Holiday Celebration
There are certain activities that place your loved ones at risk of contracting COVID-19. To limit that risk and keep your aging loved ones safe during the pandemic, think about the questions your mom would ask you when you were a teenager wanting to go out with your friends as you plan your celebration.
Where are you going to be?
Indoor get togethers increases the chance of spreading viruses. If possible, meet outdoors. If you are meeting indoors, have doors and windows open to increase ventilation.
Who’s going to be there?
Larger groups of people bring more germs with them. Consider whether you can safely maintain physical distance between people in the space you have.
How long are you going to be there?
The longer you spend together, the higher the risk. You might want to consider having a short afternoon visit instead of a full weekend together.
Where is everybody coming from?
If people are visiting from a place that has higher levels of COVID-19 cases, there is an increased risk. It is safer to visit within your own community.
What kind of choices is everybody making?
Think about the behavior of the people who you might invite. It is safer for your senior loved ones to visit with people who respect physical distance, maintain regular hand washing and mask wearing.
Is it safe?
You want to consider what is going on in your community and the community of your loved ones. If there are rising rates of COVID-19 cases in either community, it may not be a good idea to get together.
Creative Ways to Celebrate the Holidays with Aging Loved Ones
Instead of focusing on what you can’t do this year, use your imagination to think of how you can still connect with your loved ones.
Around the world and throughout history, families have often been separated during the holidays. It might have been family living overseas, times of illness, or military family members serving overseas.
Take inspiration from these times and continue to create meaningful traditions for your family.
Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
Send Out Holiday Countdown Calendars
Choose a timeframe that you want to celebrate with your loved one, it could be 12 days or 4 weeks. Put together a package that requires opening something new everyday. These don’t have to be expensive gifts. You could fill your countdown with:
- A note recalling a favorite memory
- A package of hot chocolate and cookies, to be “shared” over a virtual video chat
- A list of things you appreciate about your loved one
- Photos from a family album with a note telling the story
You can mail or deliver the package and arrange to call or video chat with your loved one regularly as they open the cards.
Revamp Holiday Traditions
Think about what you valued the most in your holiday traditions. Was it seeing everybody together? Was it sharing a home cooked meal? Was it attending a holiday parade?
Although you may choose to change these traditions you can still keep the connection.
This might mean:
- Gathering as a family outdoors for a short, local visit
- Delivering a home cooked meal to your senior loved one and calling them to talk as you both eat separately
- Watching a holiday parade from your own homes but setting up a group video chat so you can all interact
- Visiting before the holidays to set your loved one up with a video chat device that is easy to use and showing them how to use it, so you can open presents together
Keep Visits Short, Sweet, and More Often
Short visits with people outside of your household are safer. If you are visiting with a senior loved one, consider visiting more often and for a shorter amount of time.
Vital Tips on Helping Seniors Stay Safe this Holiday Season
During the holidays, senior loneliness and isolation can have negative mental and physical consequences for your loved one if they begin to feel disconnected from others. It is important to meet their need for connection during this season. Talk to family members and friends about setting up regular check-ins with your loved one. This can be phone calls, video chats, or in person visits depending on your location.
Your senior loved one needs to continue to be a part of the community even while they are staying home.
Make Sure Their Needs are Met
Anticipate the needs of your loved one throughout the holidays, especially physical needs and safety needs. Some things to consider:
- Are they able to stay home safely?
- Is their home well heated?
- Do they need help with running essential errands?
- Can you arrange to have groceries or prescriptions delivered?
- Do they need their sidewalk shovelled?
- Is there other outdoor maintenance that needs doing?
- Are they still able to meet their daily care needs?
- Would they benefit from in-home care?
Making sure that your loved ones are connected and cared for is one of the best ways to celebrate the holidays safely.