How to Plan Socially Distanced Holiday Activities for Seniors
The holiday season in 2020 is turning out to be very different than previous years. With COVID-19 cases on the rise in California and the Modesto area, many counties are mandating stay-at-home orders. Instead of the usual hustle and bustle, people are advised to stay indoors and not travel between households. For caregivers and people who have senior loved ones, this means thinking of creative socially distanced holiday activities for seniors so that everyone can still enjoy the holidays.
Seniors are the demographic at the highest risk for COVID-19 fatalities, especially seniors over the age of eighty. Many caregivers have clients in this demographic and many people have elderly parents or grandparents in this age range, as well. During the holiday season, it is important to reduce the COVID-19 risk and exposure for seniors. This may mean opting for socially distanced holiday activities instead of the traditional festive celebrations.
Planning ahead will enable seniors to enjoy the activities. Seniors with dementia or other debilitating conditions can experience an increase of symptoms if there are sudden changes to their schedule or routine. With some careful planning, caregivers can prepare seniors for the change in holiday customs. Some guidelines include:
Communicating the change
Being mindful of limitations
Incorporating memory care
Facilitating with family members
Introducing activities slowly
Doing a “test run” of an activity
Choosing the right time of day
For instance, a senior who has poor eyesight may have trouble doing video chats on a computer. An alternative would be to arrange a window visit or a phone call. For seniors who have dementia, choosing holiday activities that improve cognitive function and memory could help reduce their dementia symptoms. To help seniors adapt to a new activity, caregivers can introduce a shortened version of the activity first, to see how the senior responds. Caregivers can also make improvements depending on the senior’s reaction.
3 Socially Distanced Holiday Activities for Seniors
The best kinds of holiday activities will vary depending on the person. Everyone is unique and has their own preferences, limitations, and capabilities. The following three socially distanced activities for seniors are ones that most seniors will be able to enjoy.
Listen to Holiday Music
Studies have shown a correlation between listening to music and a decrease in dementia symptoms. Familiar music can produce a calming effect, even if the senior doesn’t remember the song. Music can also be used to help recall fond memories and important life events. For seniors who are in a late stage of dementia, listening to music may be one of the few activities in which they can partake, as many seniors become bed ridden at this stage.
To make listening to holiday music a family affair, relatives or caregivers can make a holiday playlist that everyone can listen to together. People can also “attend” a concert together — orchestras and churches are offering a variety of holiday concerts online. If video conferencing or a phone call is an option, everyone can even sing along for some indoor caroling.
Send and Receive Holiday Cards
A handwritten card helps people feel they are important to their loved ones and that they have not been forgotten in their old age. Caregivers can help coordinate a holiday card exchange with a senior’s family members and friends. Seniors can either write a card in return or send one with the help of a caregiver.
To help seniors connect with their communities, they can also write and send cards to organizations that will distribute the cards to people in need. For example, a San Francisco program called Cards of Hope receives cards people have written and sends them to children in foster care throughout the year. An activity like this is a nice way for someone to feel valuable to their community and that they are helping to make a difference.
Create a Storybook
Sharing stories and remembering fond memories is a cherished holiday pastime for many people. While it may not be possible this year to share stories while sipping hot cocoa near the fire, families and friends can still partake in the art of storytelling together. Each person can write a story or share a memory, which then gets compiled into a book. The storybook can either be created online, printed out, or both.
This holiday activity can be DIY or people can use a service online. Once the storybook is finished, caregivers or family members can take turns reading it to each other and to their senior loved ones. If possible, seniors can also contribute. The storybook can be added to year after year and become a family keepsake.
Keeping Seniors Safe During COVID-19
In-home caregivers have experience working with people who have health conditions, including seniors who have infectious illnesses. Caregivers understand important tasks for illness prevention and recovery such as medication administration, meal preparation, personal hygiene, and stress reduction. They can help seniors be extra diligent with hand washing and can provide indoor activities so that seniors can avoid going out of the home and being at risk in the event of a community outbreak. Caregivers can also help seniors stock up on supplies, arrange medical appointments, and keep an eye on any suspicious symptoms or changes in health.
As Essential Workers, our caregivers remain committed to helping people remain safely at home. Alegre Home Care agency is staying in close contact with all caregivers and clients who may be affected during this time. In-home caregivers have a special role providing essential services to seniors, people with disabilities, and children as their one-to-one care providers. In-home care services carry many benefits for people who want to recover from an illness, manage their disability, or age in the comfort of familiar surroundings.