The 2020 holiday season will surely be a unique one. For better or worse, most people will be spending the holidays with household members and few others. While this can go a long way in protecting everyone’s health and safety, it can put an emotional toll on those who are more isolated.Elderly loved ones who live in nursing homes will likely not receive many in-person visitors this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this does not mean they have to be completely alone this holiday season. Below, we discuss a few ways to support your elderly loved ones during the COVID-19 holidays.
#1. Write a Heartfelt Letter
With the rise of technology and the increased ease in sending communications, letter-writing has almost become a lost art. However, that can make receiving a handwritten letter all the more special.
Remember, handwritten letters are often more meaningful than store-bought greeting cards. Make it a fun family project! Have the kids cut out and design a card made out of construction paper. Adorn it with glitter, stickers, and more. Have everyone in the family write a sentimental message in the letter, then mail it to your loved one’s nursing home.
The longer the letter, the better. Nursing home residents love learning updates on everyone in the family that they can’t currently see—try to have everyone write about what’s going on in their lives. Such a personalized letter full of care and love will be sure to bring a smile to any family member’s day this holiday season.
#2. Schedule a Special Zoom Meeting
Right now, the best (and safest) way for seniors to see their family members’ faces is through a Zoom call. Try to schedule some time on the actual holidays themselves to make your elderly loved one feel special. It’s a good idea to schedule several Zoom meetings with smaller groups of people (rather than one large Zoom meeting with everyone in the family) so it’s easier for the elderly person to see and hear everyone on the call.
Additionally, with lots of nursing home residents missing out on the holiday religious services that mean a lot to them, it would be quite special to coordinate a Zoom call with your loved one’s priest, pastor, rabbi, etc.
Ask the nursing home where your loved one currently resides whether they have any technology that your relative can use for the Zoom meeting. Or, ask if you can drop off a device at the facility a few weeks before the holidays begin. That way, your loved one will have enough time to familiarize themselves with the device.
This Step-by-Step Guide to a Zoom Meeting can help your loved one get started.
#3. Send Gifts Through the Mail
In-person gift-giving will mostly be limited to household members. However, you don’t want your elderly loved one to feel left out of the season’s festivities.
Ask your loved one what gifts they would like for the holiday, rather than just assuming items they would enjoy. Make sure to get these items far ahead of time and mail them to your loved one’s nursing home so they arrive in time for the holidays.
The Alzheimer’s Association provides these helpful tips for mailed gift-giving:
- Open gifts over a video call like Zoom or Skype or even over a phone call to make the experience feel personal.
- Avoid giving gifts such as dangerous tools or instruments, utensils, challenging board games, complicated electronic equipment, or pets.
- Give the person a gift they could participate in. For example, someone who once enjoyed baking may enjoy a cookie recipe book or a fun cookie construction set.
- Nursing home residents frequently request large print crossword puzzles, lip balm and Kleenex for the winter, and chips or snacks not offered at the nursing home.
How Nursing Homes Can Provide a Safe Holiday Season
With COVID-19 cases spiking nationwide, it’s vital that nursing homes do everything they can this holiday season to protect residents from the virus. While it’s important to ensure every resident has a fun and loving holiday, nursing home staff must also keep in mind that, during the current spike, they must be extra cautious around letting delivery people or visitors into the building.
If you suspect that your loved one is not receiving the care they need in their nursing home this season, our Baltimore nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys are here to help.