This holiday season will feel different for everyone and maybe especially for the seniors in your life. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to socially distance to prevent the spread of infection. In particular, families with elderly loved ones are left with tough decisions over how they should spend their holidays together.
COVID-19 is far more dangerous for the elderly. People over the age of 60 are at a higher risk of suffering from complications than others. For this reason, it’s vital to consider alternative ways to celebrate this year.
Fortunately, there’s hope for families to meet with each other over the holidays responsibly. No matter where your elderly loved ones are located, there are various ways to make everyone feel included in the festivities.
Many people tend to keep their relatives close, allowing families to conveniently gather for holidays without the hassle of long drives or flights. In the age of COVID-19, you must reconsider how these holiday meet-ups will go.
It is not advisable to physically meet with your elderly loved ones over the holidays, but if you do, here are some suggestions.
Not everywhere in the world experiences cold weather during December and January. Those who can opt for restaurants and events with outdoor spaces should do so.
Even if meeting at home, try and organize seating on the outdoor patio. And still, make sure seating is adequately spaced.
Whether indoors or outdoors, try to keep masks on. Especially when meeting with elderly loved ones, it’s crucial that everyone is wearing a mask.
Depending on where you meet, make sure there won’t be many people in close quarters. This is especially important when meeting at a public venue. If gathering at home, try not to invite too many extended relatives and friends.
When family members are spread across long distances, planning family gatherings is hard enough, even without a pandemic. For better or worse, elderly family members may still be able to participate in holiday events even while not present.
Modern technology allows people to communicate face-to-face over vast distances. Several manufacturers offer easy ways for the elderly to access video call services.
Devices such as Facebook Portal or Amazon Show are great choices since they stand up on their own and have large HD screens. What’s more, most people already have Facebook accounts, so setting up a Facebook Portal would be simple.
Furthermore, tablet devices such as the iPad have video call apps like FaceTime which are easy to use. Other devices include smartphones, for which there are plenty of video call apps to choose from.
Once you’ve purchased a video call device for your elderly loved one, you can set up a call over the holidays where the whole family can participate. Even if family members are spread across multiple locations, most video call apps such as Facebook Messenger, FaceTime, and Zoom allow for multiple devices to be on the same call.
With smartphones, you can record a message and send it straight to your loved ones for them to view at any time. Have family members get together and record yourselves singing carols or saying loving things to grandma and grandpa.
For those who can access the home or nursing facility of your loved ones, consider making a trip over there and helping decorate.
With COVID-19 safety practices in mind, decorate your loved one’s home with Christmas lights, trees, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa candles, family photos, and more. The goal is to help them feel included in whatever holiday the family is celebrating.
Elderly loved ones who can participate with family members all in one place may still have trouble feeling included in the celebration. Medical issues or chaos around the house could ruin the fun.
Younger kids will no doubt cause chaos around the house. Allowing kids a designated playroom could help the older adults feel at peace. Also, gathering in the living room and watching holiday movies is a great way for everyone to feel calm and included.
Cook food that is nostalgic for your elderly family members, such as old family recipes or meals relevant to the holiday you are celebrating.
Purchase gifts that are helpful for older adults. Gift ideas include:
Regardless of the times, there are always ways for the whole family to participate in holiday celebrations. While the pandemic makes things difficult, leveraging technology is an excellent way to bring the family together. However, you choose to celebrate, make sure to practice proper COVID-19 safety measures to prevent the spread. Try some of the above techniques for safely including elderly loved ones in holiday festivities.