Holiday traditions bring families together and connect the past to the future. Unfortunately, thanks to COVID-19, many of those traditions will need to be put on hold or adjusted this year. As the country experiences a surge in cases, experts recommend that holiday gatherings be kept to a minimum or eliminated altogether. That’s especially true for those in high-risk categories, including elderly people.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t still celebrate the holiday season. It just means that some of your favorite holiday traditions will need a COVID-safe makeover this year. Here are some ways you can create new family traditions or reimagine old ones for a safe and happy holiday season with your elderly loved ones.
How to Adjust Holiday Activities During COVID-19
The most important thing you can do as you plan your holiday season is to adjust your expectations. This won’t be the year for a huge family reunion or New Year’s Eve party. Instead, come up with some creative ways you can modify your plans to keep the people you love safe. As you plan, brainstorm creative ways to include senior family members, especially if they aren’t tech savvy. They may need someone to teach them how to FaceTime or join a Zoom call, or they may need help to participate in a virtual holiday meal. Also, bear in mind that connection is essential for elderly people who have lost most of their social interaction. Find ways to help them talk to their children, see the grandkids, or connect with friends in a safe way.
Here are some do’s and don’ts experts recommend to help you stay safe and create a memorable holiday season this year:
- Don’t: Host a large, in-person family dinner.
Instead: Plan a virtual holiday meal together. Limit your gathering to immediate family members, and ask extended family to join you via Zoom. Everyone can make their own favorite foods and you can still enjoy traditions such as sharing something you are thankful for or telling your favorite family story.
- Don’t: Attend (or host) holiday parties and gatherings.
Instead: Plan a movie night at home with cookies and hot cocoa. Include your senior loved one by setting up a Zoom call so they can watch with you.
- Don’t: Plan for out-of-state relatives to visit elderly loved ones.
Instead: Ask them to give your mom or dad a call. Better yet, ask them to Facetime with elderly family so they can still reconnect in a safe way.
New Traditions Can Add Sparkle to Your Holiday
In addition to making adjustments to current traditions, this is also a great time to try something new. If you normally travel, this year you can take the opportunity to enjoy a new activity in your own home. If you normally attend lots of parties, think of ways you can still connect socially without meeting together in-person. Here are just a few ideas that may become new holiday favorites!
- Plan a holiday meal round robin. Ask each family member to make a favorite dish and deliver portions to other family members. Then you can all enjoy the meal together over Zoom. Be sure to include senior family members who may not feel up to cooking something for themselves.
- Send a meal to your mom or dad. Eating together is one of the most memorable parts of the holidays. Help seniors preserve those special moments by sending them a pot of Uncle Bill’s famous chili or a dish of Aunt Sally’s homemade pecan pie.
- Host a virtual carol sing. Do you enjoy caroling as a family - either in the neighborhood or in your living room? You can still sing your favorite songs of the season together via Zoom or Facetime. If you have any musically inclined family members, ask them to play along!
- Make a family update video. If you won’t be sitting around Mom and Dad’s house chatting like you normally do, consider sharing family news in a video. Get the kids in on the project by asking them to share something special they have learned in school, an achievement they’re proud of, or a new skill they are practicing.
- Send your favorite cookies to loved ones. Holiday baking is another time-honored tradition, and sharing those special treats at parties and cookie exchanges is something many people look forward to. This year, consider boxing up your favorites and delivering or mailing them to friends and family.
The key to any of these activities for seniors is making sure they maintain those vital connections with the people they love. Remember that technology may be intimidating to elderly people. You can make it more accessible by setting them up with the right devices and apps to join in on the celebration.
Traditions are extremely important to every family, but especially to your elderly loved ones. By helping your senior loved ones stay connected and celebrate the holidays in a risk-free way, you not only protect them from COVID-19, but also from the devastating effects of loneliness.
At Cherished Companions, we are committed to keeping your senior loved one safe, healthy, and connected. That’s why we have created careful policies designed to protect both our clients and our caregivers. When your mom or dad is ready for some extra assistance with daily activities, we’ll be there to help.
For further questions, to request resources, or to inquire about getting or becoming a caregiver, contact Cherished Companions today on our website or call (440) 484-5390!