As the holiday season is fast approaching, it is likely that you are beginning to make plans with friends and family. Because COVID-19 is still a prevalent consideration, your plans for this year may look a little different. Perhaps you are figuring out how to handle the holidays with your loved ones because the risk of exposure is threatening to their health. You are not alone in these considerations, and this article is going to explore some potential options for getting together with families, but keeping your holiday season special and meaningful.
The Holiday Season & COVID-19 Expectations
- The stress of the holiday season (especially in a year that could have been financially strained) combined with the stress of caregiving for someone with dementia can really affect a person. This year, it is especially important to keep in mind your own health and safety. You need to make your own mental and physical health a priority while planning to carry out your holiday traditions and caring for someone else.
- Set up a time to Zoom with, FaceTime or call other family members. You could even start an email chain. Whatever your method of communication may be, talk about the holidays and your family’s plans. Make sure everyone is on the same page and is understanding of the situation your family is facing.
- Give yourself permission to do only what you can reasonably and safely manage — this likely means much smaller and more casual gatherings, if at all. No one should expect you to maintain every holiday tradition or event, especially during a pandemic.
Celebrating with a Safe Distance
There are many ways to celebrate the holidays from a distance. Again, while it may not like look a “normal”, there are many memories that can be made.
- Continue holiday traditions by dropping off favorite baked goods or a care package in a way that avoids close contact, such as leaving the special delivery at the person’s front door.
- Schedule your own “holiday parade” and ask family members and friends to drive by the older adult’s home with homemade signs or other festive decorations.
- Plan an outdoor visit with hot chocolate and blankets.
- Go outside for a walk in the neighborhood to enjoy holiday lights and decorations.
- Create and send holiday cards.
Connect through technology
- Use video call software like Zoom or Skype to gather virtually. Since it can be difficult to have conversations with larger groups over video, adding some structure to the call can help. Play a trivia game, sing carols or share pictures from past gatherings.
- Plan a video call to cook or bake a special recipe together.
- Record and send a “video holiday card” that includes personalized messages.
- If your loved one struggles with technology, ask a primary caregiver if they can help facilitate a video call.
Holidays can be meaningful, enriching times for both the person with dementia and his or her family. Maintaining or adapting family rituals and traditions helps all family members feel a sense of belonging and family identity. There are many ways that this holiday season can be adapted to be safe and fun. The faculty and staff at Orchard at Brookhaven are committed to helping you and your family keep as many traditions as possible. We are happy to support in any way. If you have questions about how we can support, please contact us.