It’s that time of year again, the beginning of the holiday season. Unlike previous years, the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the traditional activities most people enjoy during this time…hosting and/or attending parties and gatherings; visiting friends near and far; and attending religious services, theater productions, and concerts; etc. As celebrations are being planned, the decision to include seniors must be taken extremely seriously.
The summer provided opportunities for us to gather in a safe distance outside, but as the weather continues to get colder in the north east, outdoor gatherings will be difficult or nearly impossible to host for the holidays. In addition to the cold weather, the novel coronavirus is currently surging throughout the world, so we must be vigilant in keeping indoor gatherings safe.
While the CDC provides recommendations for safely hosting indoor events (see below list), the agency advises against older adults and those with underlying medical conditions attending in-person celebrations. However, it is still important that seniors are included in holiday activities. Instead of having elders attend events in-person, try the following:
- Have them attend holiday happenings virtually.
- Prior to hosting a holiday meal, deliver food that will be served at dinner or brunch to the seniors in your life, and schedule them to dine virtually at your table.
- Similar to the meal idea, deliver holiday gifts to your senior loved ones and schedule a time they can open the presents virtually with the rest of the family.
- Decorate the front yards of the seniors in your life. And for those who are living in a senior community, you can stand outside of their windows holding festive signs and dressed in holiday clothing to bring them some cheer!
- While outside of seniors’ homes or communities, sing holiday songs. Make sure the seniors are either watching from behind a glass door or window, or if they do go outside, make sure they are wearing a mask and are standing at least 6 feet away from the singers.
- To help brighten the holidays for older adults living in communities, reach out to them by sending cards and/or letters during the season. Contact a senior community to make arrangements for mailings.
These are just a few ways you can make the holidays enjoyable for the seniors you love and those who live in your area!
This column was written by Charles “Ebbie” Alfree III, Director of Advancement