COVID-19 has taken a toll on everyone this holiday season, but especially our seniors who are living in 55+ housing, assisted living, memory care, and nursing facilities. Many have not seen family since March of this year. While these various homes, condos, and apartment complexes are trying hard to give everyone a good holiday season, Michelle Kuhnle, Director of Wellness at Adams Place, made a few suggestions for how families can reach out to their loved ones during the holiday season.
“I don’t know that there are any cure-alls,” said Kuhnle, “but the following are some ideas that may help come up with ideas on how to make the holiday special.”
- First and foremost, call your loved-one, FaceTime, and window visit as much as possible. A caring voice on the other end of the phone lets them know that they are not alone and that in spite of being separated by the pandemic, they are loved.
2. Provide your loved one with their favorite holiday meal or treat. You can make arrangements to drop it off where they are living, or arrange for the facility to create the dish.
3. Send photographs of their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.
4. Have grandchildren and great grandchildren create special cards or drawings, then have them pull them together into a book they can flip through to see them all.
5. Gather outside the senior living resident’s window with signs of greetings and well-wishes.
6. If your loved one is on the first floor, stick a suction-cupped bird feeder on their window and regularly fill it with bird seed.
7. Organize your church group or neighborhood to carol outside resident windows or balcony.
8. Organize your church group or neighborhood to provide a sign parade outside resident windows or off their balcony.
9. Focus on the positive instead of the negative when you are talking to them.
10. Provide gifts that encourage movement, a number of residents in senior facilities will just staying in their pajamas all day long, hardly moving, which is very bad for them.
11. Provide gifts that encourage mental stimulation to exercise the brain like word games, puzzles, number games, history games, etc.
12. Finally, support the regulations of the facility. The facility is simply following rules passed down from the CDC and Tennessee Department of Health.
If others out there have ideas for other ways to help seniors have a healthy and happy holiday season, please share them with our readership! As COVID-19 numbers are rising, more senior facilities are finding themselves having to lock down tight again to keep everyone safe.