The holidays can be a difficult time for loved ones in a senior living community, especially in 2020. With the COVID-19 pandemic, visiting relatives isn’t as easy as it used to be — whether they’re in a retirement home or not. Precautions need to be taken to ensure the safety of your elderly loved ones, and unfortunately that might mean not being able to visit them over the holidays.
Understand that this is a hard time for elderly relatives. Roughly 1 in 4 seniors suffers from depression and more than 70 percent of older Americans feel isolated and lonely. Those feelings are only exacerbated over the holidays. But there are some things you can do to help your older relatives feel loved and cared for during this season, even if you can’t physically be there.
Call them: Make sure your loved ones hear your voice on important days like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve/Day. Knowing that you’re thinking of them will make them feel that much more special. Let them know what’s going on and tell them you wish you could be together. If Grandparents are tech-savvy, set up a video call so you can see each other.
Send a holiday card: A little greeting goes a long way. Mail your elderly relatives a holiday card with some pictures of you and their grandchildren. They’ll love displaying it in their retirement community for all to see. You also can send them a little gift, but don’t let the stress of gift giving overwhelm you. They’ll love anything thoughtful!
Cook them a meal: If you can’t physically visit, see if their senior living community will allow you to drop off a special meal or treat for your loved one. Whether it’s their favorite holiday casserole or a tin of Christmas cookies, the gesture will make your loved one feels considered and appreciated. You can also see if you can arrange for the community’s chef to prepare their holiday favorite meal.
Suggest going outside: Sometimes a little sunshine goes a long way. Suggest your loved one take advantage of milder winter days with a leisurely walk outside. You can set up a time for them to call you while they walk so they feel like you’re right there with them as they enjoy the fresh air.
Encourage them to attend the senior living community holiday party: If their community has a holiday party, encourage your loved one to participate. They’ll be able to revel in some festive cheer with other residents and celebrate the holiday in a safe and fun atmosphere designed with their needs in mind.