Many of us are struggling with how to safely celebrate the holidays with family and friends. This is especially true for seniors who have been self-isolating and limiting contact with others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that the risk for health complications and severe illness is higher for older adults. We are also seeing a surge in cases due, in part, to small gatherings. Keeping COVID-19 and health and safety in mind, how can we safety celebrate the holiday season this year?
Recently, Sharecare, the organization behind the Blue Zones Project®, published an article on how to reimagine the holiday season. The “new normal” this year means limiting gatherings to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, protect yourself, your family and your community. Just remember, it’s only temporary, and this does not mean that the holidays are cancelled. You can still celebrate. It just might require a little more creativity.
Discuss holiday plans with loved ones.
You might have had this conversation already, but everyone’s comfort and tolerance levels regarding COVID-19 and its associated risks are different. Make sure that you talk about reservations on travelling, wearing masks or social distancing. According to Sharecare, “it’s important to ensure that everyone is mindful of the precautions needed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
Check on the level of COVID-19 in the community.
It’s important to check on COVID-19 cases not just where you live, but where you are going. According to the CDC, visiting people from different places adds a higher risk to an activity. Consider quarantining two weeks ahead of time, getting tested, not ignoring any flu-like symptoms or COVID-19 symptoms and taking your temperature before you arrive. For information on COVID-19 in Monterey County (including updates and testing sites), visit the Office of Emergency Services website.
Take the celebration outside (if possible).
Being outside makes it easier to practice social distancing. Also, the air is constantly moving. Remember to follow safety precautions such as wearing a mask and practicing social distancing for outdoor gatherings.
Host a virtual celebration.
While it’s not the same, a virtual holiday celebration can still be fun and comforting. You could cook together, or drop off food ahead of time. According to Sharecare, “the lowest-risk option is to have dinner at home with only the people who live with you.” Make sure that you follow guidelines set into place by local and state public health officials regarding gatherings.
Try to focus on the positives and not dwell on the negatives this holiday season. We know that it is not easy, but we’ll do the best we can to adapt. If you have any questions, or need resources, please call Member Services at (855) 570-1600: (TTY users call 711).