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Stay Safe and Enjoy the Holiday Season

By Breanna Callahan, Marketing Coordinator

older couple using iPadWith the holidays quickly approaching, and no end in sight for the recommended social distancing efforts, many people are thinking about their plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The safest course of action is to stay home and celebrate with those in your household. However, many are concerned about those who live by themselves, especially older people. This time has been very difficult for many people, especially those who have been staying home and avoiding gatherings since March.

So what can we do for those in our families or in our communities (especially older people and those who live alone) to help them know they are still present with us? To reassure them even though they may not be physically with us, they are in our hearts? How do we safely show them we care and get through this holiday season together (apart)?

  • It may seem simple, but a phone call can do wonders. Or a FaceTime call, or whatever method works best for you. The most important thing is letting people know you are thinking of them and helping them to have contact with those outside their home. Coordinate with other family members so everyone can reach out on different days if possible.
  • Another simple, yet heartfelt and meaningful way to reach out is through the mail! This year Christmas cards will be even more meaningful than in years past. It will be something people can look forward to checking their mailboxes for. Get the kids involved—have them color pictures or make special artwork to send to family, neighbors, really anyone. It will for sure brighten their day. And of course there is extra meaning when they know you have put time and effort into something to bring them joy. This is also a great way to do something special for those in nursing homes.
  • Have a virtual meal together. Holiday meals are often a favorite gathering activity and, thus, will be the most difficult thing to get through this year.  Get creative, arrange a virtual way you can eat together. Set up a tablet or computer or phone in a place where they can see you and have a virtual meal together!
  • Encourage them to continue with their own activities they normally may do. For example, if they normally enjoy holiday baking, they should still do that! It will be a scaled back effort, but just the act of doing it will help them pass the time and do something that brings them happiness. Another example is decorating their homes. If they normally decorate for the holidays, encourage them to do so again this year. Even if they will not have anyone over to enjoy their decorations, again, the act of decorating and then being able to enjoy the decorations themselves is sure to put them in the holiday spirit.
  • Create your own Christmas concert or program with those in your household! Record your family singing carols or putting on a Christmas program with your kids and email it to your family and friends or post on social media. This will both get you in the holiday spirit and allow you and your family to be creative as well as give others something fun to enjoy.
  • Offer them help. Ask if they need you to do their holiday shopping for them, or maybe they need you to pick up some Christmas cards for them to write out. My experience is many people hesitate to ask for help, so be sure to bring it up and encourage them to let you help. Helping others is a great way to show kindness.
  • Monitor their mental health. Don’t be afraid to ask how your family and friends are doing during this time, especially the elderly. If you are concerned, offer them local resources they can call if they are struggling. A few helpful resources include:
    • Southwest Behavioral Services for Outpatient medication management or Inpatient Geriatric Psych Hospitalization
    • Aging & Disability Resource Center (ADRC) for their county
    • Senior Center in their area if they are open
    • Pastoral care if they are connected with a church
  • If the weather allows, visit outdoors with masks on while socially distanced. Seeing your face and talking to you in person will make their day!
  • If they are able to drive, encourage them to drive around and look at Christmas lights.
  • One of the best things you can do is to keep those you love healthy. Many people are thinking they don’t want their loved ones to be lonely on the holidays, so they should just make this “one exception” and celebrate like usual. Celebrating in others’ homes with people outside of your usual household is not encouraged by the Center for Disease Control. These small gatherings are risky because many people don’t know if they are infected with COVID, and the elderly are the most likely to have complications and get very ill if they get it. I am not saying don’t celebrate and just forget about the holidays. I am hoping you can use these tips as well as your own ideas to make the holidays joyous.

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