Today was a very special day for Suzi. She lived in an assisted living home and had the opportunity to participate in the home’s memory care program. She began having some issues with memory several years back, and her loving family had ensured she had all the resources necessary to continue living life to the fullest. Suzi didn’t realize that the snow dusted lawn of her beautifully landscaped outdoors in Arvada, Colorado was the start of the holiday season, or that Thanksgiving was today. In fact, she was quite amazed to see her nephew Alex loaded with Thanksgiving goodies. He even remembered her Thanksgiving favorite – southern pecan pie.
Alex served his Aunt Suzi a slice of pecan pie and sat next to her, wondering if she would recognize him. As she took a bite of the pie, memories of her childhood down south flooded back and she began telling him stories of her childhood. She seemed so happy, and so secure as she talked about her parents and the old farmstead. Suddenly she turned to him and said, “Alex, you need some pie too!” A big smile swept across Alex’s face. She remembered him.
Thanksgiving is the season to celebrate. To be thankful. For seniors, it can be a long awaited time to see family members and share some good times and food together. It’s something out of the ordinary, out of the regular routine of life. For many seniors, it’s the highlight of the entire year. Whether your senior is in assisted living, memory care or still living on their own, you can bring so much joy into their life. Here are some things to consider to keep everyone safe and yet feel loved this holiday season.
Virtual visits can be a great option if you live far away or want to limit exposure for health reasons. Make sure your senior has access to technology such as an iPad or laptop with a camera and microphone. It’s really important that elderly family feels remembered and appreciated, especially at this time of year. Seeing your family interact in your home, grandkids showing off their accomplishments or latest interests, and the family puppy wagging and waiting with anticipation for a piece of turkey will bring a smile to their faces.
Seeing family is very important for most people, especially in their senior years. If you live nearby and your loved one’s home is in a retirement or senior living community, make sure to check and see what visitation allowances are in place at the time. At this time, CDC and state health guidelines especially for the elderly can vary based on the current risk of acquiring Covid-19 or the flu. So be sure to call ahead and ask what current policy is in place for family to visit. Sometimes, visits can be facilitated in a setting such as outdoors with proper distancing and masks in place. You can also ask about bringing some home cooked favorite holiday for your loved one. If health concerns are not an issue, you may consider bringing your senior into your home to share good Thanksgiving dinner. Be sure to consult CDC and local health recommendations, and perhaps even talk to your senior’s doctor about best options. To limit your loved one’s exposure to large gatherings, consider hosting a smaller Thanksgiving a day or two ahead of time, just with your elderly family member.
However you plan to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, remember the seniors in your life and bring them the warmth and love of this holiday season. It’s quite likely that they have been looking forward to this time of year with great anticipation. Visit, call them up, try a video visit, or bring them something they’ll enjoy. Joy and gratitude are the theme of the season!