‘Tis The Season: Celebrating with Seniors During COVID-19

Today’s guest post is written by Kie Copenhaver of CarePatrol. Her article is timely as we’ve seen many families struggle with advocating for their loved ones during these difficult times.

If you turn on the radio, you can hear it.  When you switch on your television, you can see it. The holidays are upon us! And this year is going to be drastically different. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our way of life since mid-March when we were first asked to quarantine in place.

What does it all mean for this holiday season? More specifically, what can we do for our elderly family members who may reside in assisted living, memory care or in the skilled nursing setting? And how about our aging neighbors who may not have family visiting this year – or may not have family at all?

We are learning that isolation and loneliness are having increasingly negative health implications in our aging population; and with the holidays right around the corner, we could see a dramatic worsening of our senior loved ones’ mental and physical health and wellbeing. Additionally, our aging population is at the greatest risk for severe illness and/or death caused by COVID-19. This increased risk is what is currently causing assisted living, memory care and Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) resident to have to quarantine in place with limited opportunities to get out of their immediate environment. So how can we “be with them” without really “being with them”?

Here are some suggestions for celebrating this holiday season with elderly loved ones:

  • Send cards and photos to your elderly loved ones; let them know you are thinking about them. If you have young ones, put them in charge of making cards and holiday decorations for your elderly loved one to enjoy.
  • Arrange a virtual gathering (i.e., Zoom, Facetime, Skye and Google Hangout) to include your senior loved one in the festivities; reading a classic holiday tale, a bible verse or a passage from a special book may be the perfect way to start the festivities.
  • Have a holiday meal delivered to your loved one if they are in assisted living, memory care or a SNF; many of these places will be preparing special meals for the holidays yet it may be missing Aunt Mattie’s secret ingredient mashed potatoes and Uncle Joe’s favorite huckleberry delight. Check with these places to ensure they will allow you to bring in outside food and drink (and make sure you won’t be breaking dietary restrictions your loved one may have).
  • Create a CD or cassette tape with their favorite holiday music; music stirs the soul and brings back fond memories of days gone by. Reminisce with them if they feel like talking.
  • If you have a special holiday movie tradition, send your loved one the movie so they too can enjoy it. Better yet, share your screen during a virtual visit and you can watch it together.
  • Create a schedule of calls to your loved one – have members of the family call at prescribed times throughout the days or weeks to maintain that feeling of connection.
  • Go virtual caroling – send a holiday singing message to Grandma Rosie so she can hear your voices or have a virtual sing-along with your family, friends, and neighbors alike.
  • Create a photo album using a service like Shutterfly or Costco; include photos of holiday meals and traditions from years past.

Get creative.  Think outside the box.  We all may be facing hurdles and challenges when it comes to the holidays this year – likely, most of us have never dealt with anything quite like this.  Give yourself and others grace.  Love on your friends, family, and senior neighbors just a little extra this year.  It has been a doozy of a year; let your love and some creativity light the way.  Hopefully, we are close to the end of this tunnel!


Guest Post by Kie Copenhaver MA, RHIA, CSA, RCFE
619-378-6897 texts welcome

Calling family during Christmas quarantine

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