The holiday season should be a joyous and festive time of year for people of all ages, including those aged 65+. Social engagement is essential for seniors any time of year, especially during the holidays. But many holiday celebrations will look a little different again this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Since COVID-19 can be even more dangerous for aging loved ones, finding safe ways for them to join in the holiday festivities will help ensure their health and wellbeing. What follows are some fun, festive ideas for those special seniors in your life who want to enjoy the holidays.
How Socialization Helps Older Adults
Research tells us that seniors with more active social lives tend to avoid many physical, emotional, and cognitive challenges that their socially isolated peers experience.
Socialization helps the elderly in these ways:
- Stress relief – Aging adults who are socially active tend to handle stress better, which improves their physical and mental health.
- Reduces anxiety – Seniors who are socially engaged are at lower risk for feeling worried and anxious.
- Helps prevent depression – Social isolation and loneliness can cause or worsen depression, while socialization promotes higher self-esteem and a sense of worth.
- Cognitive health – Socializing year-round helps keep seniors mentally sharp, stimulated, and intellectually engaged, all of which can help prevent cognitive impairment and dementia.
- Longevity – Positive social interactions on an ongoing basis may also increase a senior’s lifespan.
Spreading Holiday Cheer from a Distance
Whether your older loved ones live nearby or far away, here’s how to celebrate the holidays together while following social distancing protocols:
It might be the computer age, but people still enjoy receiving greeting cards in the mail. Ask your kids to make their grandparents homemade holiday cards, or use preprinted cards filled with handwritten messages. Mailing cards with inspirational messages will boost the holiday spirits of those special seniors in your life.
If your aging loved ones are tech-savvy, use video chat services like Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, or Facetime to stay connected during the Holidays. Have your kids ask their grandparents questions about how they celebrated holidays growing up. What was their favorite gift as a child? What are their fondest holiday memories?
Ask your parents to read their grandchildren a holiday story or use the online time to share family baking recipes. You can also record video messages by using an app like Marco Polo, which can be watched later by all when convenient.
Holiday ornament exchange
Ask family members of all ages to make homemade ornaments, and then schedule a time to exchange your holiday creations from a safe distance. Hang the decorations on your Christmas tree or in the window, take pictures, and then share them on social media.
Head over to your senior’s home with the family and sing them some of their favorite holiday carols while standing on the driveway. Invite them to join in the singing and then do some “distance caroling” at the homes of other older friends and neighbors.
In addition to the social aspects, holidays are all about exchanging gifts. Do a drive-by celebration and gift swap during which everyone follows social distancing guidelines. Then, open your gifts while video chatting to feel more like being together in the same room.
If your senior isn’t set up for video chats, call them on the phone while the kids are opening their presents and place everyone on speaker so that they can share in the excitement!
Your Safety Net for the Holidays for Seniors in Chevy Chase, MD
No matter how hard you try, involving aging loved ones in holiday celebrations can be challenging. Finding the right person to care for your loved one is often a difficult task. At Help at Home in Chevy Chase, we’ve provided personalized in-home care to families in the greater Washington, DC, area for over 20 years—including holiday companion care. Our mission is delivering the most comprehensive and compassionate senior home care possible, using a unique, hands-on approach with every client and family we serve.
Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, our in-home services include personal care, transitional care, respite care, geriatric care, end-of-life care, Alzheimer’s and dementia care, and more. To learn more about our top-quality home care services or schedule an initial assessment for a senior in our service area today, please visit www.helpathomecare.com.