Reaching out to isolated seniors and loved ones during the holidays

virtual holiday

The COVID-19 pandemic has isolated us from each other more than we ever expected. Many of us have not been able to see our families or friends and we are unsure when we will be able to. During this time, we have become more selfish with our time and energy focusing on our own happiness and trying to get through this time as best as possible. While it’s important for us to stay centered and positive, we can’t forget about our loved ones, whether they live in a nursing home, at home or in a senior living community. You may think they are kept occupied with their own daily lives, but many are struggling with feeling lonely. Unfortunately, they will not be the ones to reach out or tell you what they are feeling.
If you want to take the initiative of reaching out to a loved one but don’t want to just say “hi,” there are plenty of ways you can make a personalized, virtual experience centered around a common activity or goal. Here are a few ideas.
Have a pre-meal Zoom call
It may be difficult to eat a meal together over Zoom, but a good way to feel connected is to gather at the same time and have a virtual gathering before eating. Whether your tradition is to pray or discuss what you are thankful for, this is the time to make it happen.
Set aside 30 minutes to do the call to account for any technical difficulties or people running late. Appoint one person from the group to be the host of the chat that sets up the meeting link and leads the conversation so that no one is talking at the same time. Set aside moments for each person to talk and feel a part of the experience.
Schedule a virtual cooking meeting
If your family enjoys cooking and usually bonds that way, a great way to substitute being together is to come up with a time to make the same dish. Try a different recipe than usual that everyone is excited to try. You can talk through the steps with each other and chat about other things along the way. By having something to do during the call, such as cooking, the conversation will be based around a common activity which distracts from talking about the negatives going on in the world. Who doesn’t love talking about food?
Set up a Christmas tree or home decorating call
Putting up ornaments and other decorations is usually a time when people get together to set up for the holidays. Even if you usually do it by yourself, this may be a fun way to do it with some company while staying safe. Just prop up your computer or phone by the area you are decorating to share in the moment together. If you have ornaments collected over the years, now is a time to show your loved ones which ones you still have and what they mean to you.
Whether you go all out over Zoom or just take some time to chat with your loved ones, the holidays are the most important time to connect. The holidays are typically one of the most stressful times of the year for people and COVID-19 is going to make it even more difficult. Keep this in mind while you make your holiday plans to make everyone feel welcome and less isolated this year.
If you don’t know how to have a virtual call, you can learn how to Zoom by watching this video or how to FaceTime by reading this blog.

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