Families look forward to their holiday traditions all year long. The memories we make during this special time last a lifetime, and some of the strongest memories your senior loved ones might have could be during the holiday season. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many are concerned about how to continue these traditions while keeping everyone safe and healthy. Thankfully, there are plenty of socially distant activities you can incorporate into the festivities.
With a few tweaks, you can keep the memories alive while making lasting new ones. Here are some suggestions for taking your traditions virtual, or making adjustments, so your senior loved ones can join in on the fun with no risk to their health.
Adjusting cherished memories
List out the favorite traditions you have with your loved ones. Is it baking and decorating cookies? Listening to holiday music while you put up the tree? Chances are, you have some of your own special memories unique to your family. Take a look at your list and see how adjustments can be made to keep them going.
Here are some classic traditions adjusted for this year’s celebrations.
Decorating the house
If your senior loved ones live with you, this is an easy tradition to continue. You can carry on as usual with your decorating, and play some favorite holiday tunes as you go. This activity can be a big mood boost for the household and make things feel as if they’re carrying on as normal.
For senior loved ones residing in an assisted living community, you can still include them in the fun. Set up a video call with them and keep it running as you and your family decorate the house. Your loved ones can comment on what things should go where and feel like they are right there with you.
Maybe you and Mom used to go on a big holiday shopping trip together at the local malls. You can still really have some fun with this one. With a Zoom call, share your screen with your loved ones and go online shopping. While you chat through the options and pages of items, you’ll be free to visit any shop and find any item in the world together.
Another option is to take your loved ones along with you on a video call while you visit small local shops or malls safely. You can show them potential items and have them right with you as you make your purchases.
Baking and cooking
For those living in your household, this is another safe activity to perform together. Have your senior loved ones seated at the table for decorating cookies while everyone shares stories and memories, and music plays in the background. The sounds and smells can help everyone to feel relaxed and soothed with this familiar tradition.
You can have family members call in to join while they bake their own treats, especially if you used to have a bunch of people over to do the usual holiday baking and cooking.
For senior loved ones at an assisted living community, you can have them call in to join. Ask Dad to remind you of the secret ingredient in his famous chili, or ask Mom how she used to make her apple pie crust so flaky and sweet. It can be a happy distraction for them to demonstrate their skills and teach you some tricks.
Watching sporting events or holiday parades
Keep an eye on the local news, because some of the holiday parades might be virtual this year. Many local groups are adjusting the usual large holiday gatherings and opting for smaller, virtual events to keep the community involved.
If watching sporting events is big in your family, these programs can be viewed together through the help of video or phone calls as everyone watches together. Cheering through the phone still can be a lot of fun.
Holiday movie nights
Similar to sporting events, who says a big movie night can’t be virtual? Have everyone put on the same movie at the same time and keep the speakerphone on, or share your screen on a virtual call and everyone can join in with the same link.
Love watching holiday Hallmark movies with Mom? Give her a call and watch together. If she lives with you, this is another safe and familiar holiday activity to share. You can keep the films rolling in the background all season for some festive cheer.
Big family meals
Large family gatherings for holiday meals might be the tradition your senior loved ones will miss the most, but it can still be a special, cheerful event. If they live with you, create a beautiful holiday meal together and enjoy it with immediate family. Ask family members from other households to call in with video throughout the day, or everyone can join in at the same scheduled time and eat together. This is a great way to keep everyone together and safe.
If your senior loved ones don’t live with you, their assisted living community may allow safe, socially distant activities or visits, in which case you can share a meal or visit with them in that way. If not, virtual visits will be essential. Call the community to hear about how they are accommodating your loved ones for the holidays and making sure the season is still special for them.
How Kensington Place is helping
At Kensington Place Redwood City, we have adjusted our activities in several ways to keep residents engaged, fulfilled, and safe, so that the holiday season will feel no different. Our promise is to love and care for your loved ones as we do our own, and we are committed to keeping their lives just as bright and cheerful as they celebrate the season.
Please contact us to hear more about our programs. We’d love to tell you how we are making the holidays special for your loved ones and incorporating fun socially distant activities into their daily lives.
Recommended Additional Reading:
- Activity Ideas for Residents That Maintain Social Distancing
- The Importance of Caregiver Mental Health
- Alzheimer’s Care Guide: Understanding and Caring for Memory Loss