Managing the Holidays With Aging Parents During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The holidays are going to look different for each family. It may be a difficult time for our aging parents and family members given the pandemic circumstances, but there are many ideas on managing the holidays with aging parents during this quarantine that brings holiday cheer for everyone!
Just because we may be far away from our loved ones, doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the holidays together and as stress-free as possible.
Managing the holidays with aging parents
When managing the holidays, the most important aspects to consider are safety and mental wellbeing. One of the consequences of being apart this holiday season can be anxiety and depression. The best way to combat this is to try and stay positive, and virtually connected with friends and family when possible.
We go over how to interact with and keep the older adults in our lives feeling loved during the quarantine this holiday season given where they live.
Seniors living in a nursing home or living independently
Visiting family in-person this year is probably out of the question for a lot of families due to COVID-19. Senior family members can still be included in the fun with friendly phone calls and special care packages filled with fun holiday items. A little Christmas spirit goes a long way for seniors in reducing feelings of isolation and anxiety.
Send activities and keep ‘em engaged
Research has shown that creative activities can decrease negative feelings and increase positive ones, reduce stress, alleviate anxiety, and improve general well being. So send over some holiday activity arts and crafts, like snowflakes from coffee filters, a thankful tree to decorate, greeting cards, maybe a holiday themed puzzle! Bring the festivities to them.
A cute gift this year may be an advent calendar, it’s something to look forward to each day!
Check in regularly
Virtual check-ins are so important for families this holiday season.. FaceTime, Zoom, Google Duo are all great ways for families to see one another, and give the feeling of being together, despite being apart.
Make video calls a part of the holiday activities, when you decorate the tree, light the menorah, open gifts, cut the turkey, queue the lights! Include them in the holiday traditions!
And don’t forget to remind them just how much you mean to them!
Spread the holiday cheer
Something sweet would be to send holiday greeting cards to your family members that live farther away from your household. Let them know what you are doing for the holidays. Send them some of the crafts you or your children made, and if you can, send some cookies your family decorated!
Another way to keep your family traditions alive and with everyone could take the form of care packages. Fill packages with sweet treats, their holiday favorites, pictures of the family: little gifts to remind them of family.
If your family likes to attend religious or cultural gatherings, get them set up to stream those holiday services or find programs that allow them to participate in the festivities from the comforts of home.
If they are living with you
If your aging loved ones are living with you, it’s important this holiday season to provide them with balance, and help them manage feelings of anxiety, sadness, or depression.
Help them maintain a daily routine
The holidays are a busy and sometimes stressful time for families. Maintaining the senior living at home’s daily routine can reduce that stress and anxiety for both your elderly loved one and yourself. Routines create structure in the day, and allow the family caregiver the time to plan around that schedule.
Engage them in the holiday fun but within reason
The holiday activities sure are fun, but can be a little overwhelming for elderly parents. Let your senior loved ones pick and choose their engagement level.
Leave space in the holiday cheer for storytelling, downtime like holiday music or movies, and ample time to rest.
Be flexible, the holidays are going to look different, and that is okay
This year, our holiday traditions may be different than years prior. Don’t slap yourself on the wrist if the ham just doesn’t get baked, or cookies aren’t pristine, or all the ornaments aren’t up. If we’ve learned anything this year it’s to take care of ourselves and others first, and accomplish what you can, when you can.
The holidays are about sharing and extending love to the community, to family and to friends. This year taking care and showing love is thinking in terms of safety. There are so many ways to be together while without being together, so stay at home, keep in touch with your seniors, share the love and stay safe!
The LIFE Program is a Medicare and Medicaid approved long-term care program that provides complete medical care and supportive services for persons 55 years and older so that they can remain living in their home. The LIFE Program is an alternative to nursing and personal care homes.
Senior LIFE is a Medicare Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) operating as a LIFE (Living Independence for the Elderly) program in the state of Pennsylvania.