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One of the most devastating impacts of Covid-19 has been the sense of isolation that it has created. Many people report that they feel starved for physical touch, even a simple hug. This isolation has been especially challenging for older adults who have missed meaningful interactions with their children and grandchildren. Yet, the people who most miss these interactions — older adults — are also the individuals who are most at risk for developing severe consequences if they develop Covid-19 infections. Therefore, it is vitally important to think about creative ways to spend time together during the holidays without actually being together in person.
Celebrate Remote: This Is More Important Than Ever
Our country’s skyrocketing Covid-19 cases underscore the urgency and importance of this task. According to the latest statistics from The New York Times, new Covid-19 cases have soared to more than 175,000 cases per day in the week before Thanksgiving. In addition, in the weeks to come, many of these newly diagnosed cases will result in hospitalizations and even deaths, and the numbers are likely to be even more staggering, risking overwhelming the medical system.
Technology: A Critical Tool for Staying Connected
Technology is perhaps the most essential tool that we have to address and minimize isolation in a socially distanced world. One of the most popular ways to bridge the physical distance is via Zoom. Zoom is a video conferencing platform that can link together many different users via video. Most people find Zoom extremely intuitive and user friendly, and even better, Zoom works on devices ranging from phones to tablets and computers. If you have an older family member who is struggling with Zoom, there are tutorials that you can walk them through.
Zoom is not the only technology tool that you should check out to help your family stay connected during these challenging times. For people who like Apple products, Facetime can be a great way to change a simple phone call into a video that gives you a more complete picture of your loved one’s day-to-day life. And don’t forget social media platforms. Sharing photos and videos on Facebook and Instagram can also help minimize the risk of social isolation for our older family members.
Using Technology during the Holidays
The technology tools mentioned above can help bridge the social isolation gap that many older Americans experience at any time of the year. In addition, these tools may be especially important as people think about creative ways to celebrate the upcoming holidays while keeping friends and family members as safe as possible.
Below is a list of five activities that you can do remotely that will also engage your older family members in the holiday spirit:
#1 Game Night Can Be a Fun Option
Think about your holiday traditions. What games did you like to play in the Christmas season? Arrange a virtual game night where you can play these games remotely, but together. You can make almost any game work in a virtual format but make sure to select games that work for all age groups.
#2 Host a Festive Sing-Along
Decide on a night devoted to singing your favorite Christmas carol, from Frosty the Snowman to Silent Night. You do not have to be a great singer to make this a fun event. It is all about the Christmas spirit and coming together virtually for a virtual Zoom singalong.
#3 Some Holiday Events Can Be Geared towards Adults
For the adults in the family, you can have a virtual wine tasting event before your Christmas celebration so you can taste test some options for your holiday meal. You can even arrange to have the same wines delivered to everyone who is participating in the event. Make sure to include both red and white wines.
#4 We Can Still Enjoy Our Favorite Cooking Traditions
Many people’s favorite Thanksgiving and Christmas memories are focused in the kitchen, basting the turkey and baking delicious pumpkin pies. This year not everyone can be crowded together into one kitchen. However, you can prepare the same foods using time tested family recipes in an extended Zoom session. This is also a great time to share some of your favorite holiday memories.
#5 Think Outside the Box with a Virtual Escape Room
For people looking for a way to test their wits, a virtual escape room for all family members could be a great activity. Many different companies are offering these adventure options, and you can check one out for more information.
Additional Factors to Consider
Other activities are also easy to transition to a virtual format. Don’t forget to set up your Zoom call on Christmas morning so that grandparents can see their grandkids opening their favorite new toys. And before that, Christmas wish lists can also be sent electronically to family members.
When deciding on activities for your family members, it is important to consider various factors, including: any physical/cognitive limitations that people may have, the age range of participants, the budget that you have, and activities that are particularly interesting. You want to make these activities as inclusive as possible. Feel free to think outside of the box to bring the most joy you can to this challenging holiday period and to make new memories!
Also, if your older loved one has a caregiver they can be a great resource in planning activities and ensuring that they are accessible to everyone. And, don’t forget to include these members of your extended family in these activities.
Reach Out to Community Home Health Care
Perhaps not surprisingly, many older Americans have struggled during the Covid-19 pandemic. These individuals have struggled with the worst Covid outcomes of any demographic group, for a wide variety of reasons, and they have also been doubly impacted by social isolation. Many older Americans have been in strict quarantine for the last nine months to reduce their risk of contracting Covid and they increasingly report feeling depressed and anxious.
Fortunately, family members can help bridge some of these gaps using Zoom and other technology tools. But, it may be necessary to look for additional help, both during the holiday season and moving forward. For information about the support that we offer at Community Home Health Care, visit our website. Our team of dedicated healthcare professionals is able to provide a wide range of services, meeting the unique needs of your loved ones. And, we pride ourselves on flexibility, recognizing that needs may change over time.
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