Posted on December 11, 2020 by Elder Care Consultants, Inc.
During Thanksgiving 2020 we wanted to be with family and friends but the cautions from medical professionals made decisions about what we should do difficult. We were confused, sad, angry, isolated. In addition, some of us are grieving losses. Now Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa are upon us, and we face the same challenging decisions.
We still want to find ways to be joyful, thankful, and compassionate. We need connection.
How do we manage the holidays? We can start by determining what is meaningful about the holiday for each of us. We need to shape our behavior accordingly, even if it differs from past holidays.
For example, whether or not there are financial constraints, this may be the year to send cards, homemade items, or other personal gifts. That may touch on the important aspects of the holiday and even move us away from a more frenzied atmosphere of past holidays.
Important decisions need to be made about whether or not to gather together and, if so, with whom. It is important to remember that not all in your family/friend circle will manage their emotions and the restrictions in the same way.
The clearer we are about our own limitations and needs and the more we can be empathic about how others are coping, the more we can listen to one another to find common ground.
When making holiday plans, it’s important to try to reach consensus around how you will each behave during the pandemic, both through the holidays and in the months beyond until it is safe to lift the restrictions. We can assess our own risk factors and those of the others in our circle. We can each identify the ways we will keep ourselves and our loved ones safe, and where we feel able to compromise with others and where, not.
The separation from elderly loved ones, whether they’re living in their own homes or in a senior residential setting creates even greater challenges. You want the holiday to be meaningful and it is natural to want to arrange in-person visits. But can you? You want them to be safe and you have to consider the safety of those with whom you live.
The senior consultants at Elder Care Consultants (ECC) are problem solvers, before COVID-19 and especially now. We can help families gather the information they need to make decisions, and we can help manage the decisions they make.
Here are a few of the ways we have been helping families.
- Assessment and planning for in-person visits. Determining whether to visit requires a careful assessment. We have been working with families to create a checklist and protocols which assess medical safety, physical or cognitive limitations, emotional well-being, mental health histories and current status. If an in-person family visit is manageable, we can help maximize safety and connection by carefully preparing for the visit with the appropriate PPE equipment and by reviewing symptoms and precautions.
- Care Manager intervention/visits. If in-person family visits are not possible there are several ways our care managers can help:
- With precautions, we can visit your loved ones during the holidays. In-person care manager visits can provide with companionship, activity, reassurance and monitoring of well-being. Perhaps they need help sending cards or maybe you would like a special tasty holiday treat delivered.
- We can help arrange for electronic connections. Often, seniors have difficulty managing electronic devices and apps. We can facilitate their use. We have, for example, set up successful connections through FaceTime, Grandad, Amazon Echo, and Care Hub. We can help your loved-one watch home videos of your family.
- Often, after an in-person visit by family members or a care manager, it becomes apparent that increased professional assessment or oversight is warranted. Perhaps more help is needed or a move to a more supportive environment needs to be considered. We can work through the options with you and help to implement them.
- Even under ordinary circumstances most people agree that as enjoyable as the holidays can be, the level of stress increases. ECC care managers are attuned to the stresses throughout the family and our consultations take into consideration not only the well-being of the senior member, but all those who care for them.
Too much stress can result in “caregiver burnout.” Refer to our our article on caregiver burnout.
Every family is unique We help create a plan to celebrate and to mitigate isolation and loneliness that fits your situation. We respect and celebrate the families and caregivers who are doing your best to create a meaningful holiday season.
We can dedicate ourselves to staying safe in 2020 so we can gather for the Holidays in 2021!