This year is a year of being adaptive, compassionate, and building new traditions. While the holidays will look different this year, there are still methods to connect with our loved ones. We will need to be resourceful to create that holiday magic and look carefully for opportunities to make our loved ones feel special. These opportunities will present themselves to you and will vary according to your circumstances. Your local community’s health and safety guidelines are a good first step when planning your celebrations this year. Most families are making the choice this year to navigate virtual celebrations to keep their community and elderly loved ones safe from COVID-19. Virtual conferencing can keep you connected and be the bridge to a joyful holiday season.
Video conferencing is more accessible than ever for seniors as apps like Skype, Zoom and Facetime are widely available across multiple platforms and mediums. As long as your elderly loved one and your family have a computer, tablet or cellphone, they can easily connect to all their friends and family. Computer literacy and technology knowledge may require some training, especially for those who do not often use technology, however by investing some time in training them in senior-friendly applications, they will have access to their virtual community. This is an incredibly valuable tool, as isolation and loneliness can lead to depression and other mental illnesses which can be dangerous for seniors.
While video conferencing is a fun and easy way to stay connected, it is by no means your only option when it comes to virtual connections. There are a variety of activities you can do together virtually. Consider what your elderly loved on is capable of and interested in.
- Cooking – Holiday traditions often center around favourite recipes and nostalgic meals. Why not continue the tradition and move it online? Pick a favourite recipe and follow it while video conferencing. Or ask Grandma to finally share and teach her famously secretive desert recipe. Spending time together cooking is a holiday tradition and doing it virtually can bring joy to those whom this tradition is important to.
- Holiday Crafting – Each family has their own holiday crafting tradition, maybe it is making gingerbread houses or making handmade holiday cards. Whatever craft speaks to your family, try doing it while video conferencing. This can be a great way to pass the time, whether it be wrapping presents or watching the grandchildren decorate their own Christmas cookies.
- Family Games Night – Nothing says family party with some healthy competition. Whether your family likes card games or trivia, you can easily participate virtually. You can host your own party game like Bingo or use apps like Kahoot, Jackbox and Houseparty to aid in game play.
- Movie Night – It is easier than ever to watch a movie together using your computer. Netflix has a Chrome app called Netflix Party which sync’s your films while you watch virtually. Disney+ also has a Groupwatch function which lets you sync your films. Or if you are watching good old fashion video tapes or DVD’s you can hop on video conferencing or a phone call and do the classic count down: 3 – 2 – 1 GO!
Which way you decide to celebrate the holidays, know that by taking health and safety precautions you are helping to keep yourself, your elderly loved ones and your local community safe. Being mindful of the health of your community and being compassionate to those who are vulnerable during this difficult time creates space for peace in everyone’s holiday season. Every day we all make a positive difference for our families by washing our hands, wearing a mask, and respecting our local health guidelines. It is so important to be grateful to those who are working to keep us safe and provide essential services and respect their sacrifices by minimizing risky behavior and staying safe this holiday season.