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7 Suggestions for Safe Holiday Gatherings with Seniors

We have witnessed history in 2020: a global pandemic, unlike any other for more than a century.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports, “It is estimated that about 500 million people, or one-third of the world's population, became infected with (the Spanish flu). The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide, with about 675,000 occurring in the United States.”

As I write this blog, COVID-19 has infected more than 73 million people around the world, and over 16 million of those cases are in the United States. At least 1.6 million people have died worldwide, with America’s tally preparing to surpass 300,000. Florida has more than 1.1 million cases, with almost 20,000 deaths.

These numbers are staggering. The biggest difference between the two pandemics is the science that has evolved over 100 years, so much so, “Operation Warp Speed” allowed our nation’s best scientists to develop a safe and effective vaccine in less than nine months.

The Pfizer vaccine was approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the CDC, and is now on its way to hospitals and pharmacies across the US, while the Moderna vaccine is slated for approval in the next week, or so.

This may be the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is certainly a noteworthy beginning!

Healthcare workers and those on the frontlines will be the first to receive the vaccine. Seniors and the elderly in long-term care and assisted living facilities will follow. It’s going to be awhile before the majority of us will have access to the immunization, so we must gear-up to persevere for another holiday that will not look the same as years past.

Thanks to Good Housekeeping, I have found seven suggestions for seniors to safely celebrate the holidays this year, whether as a host or attendee of a Hanukkah, Christmas or Kwanzaa celebration.

  • Outdoors is best. It is best to plan something outdoors, if at all possible, because when more people gather indoors, there is an increased risk of spreading the virus. Since my family and I live in Florida, it will be much easier for us to plan something outside, but it may not work if there is inclement weather, or if you live in a colder climate. Seniors who are hosting or attending a holiday gathering have a decreased risk of contracting the virus outdoors, with masks and social distancing in place. If inclement weather or a colder climate prevent you from hosting or attending an outdoor dinner party, try to find a way to socially distance yourself or your guests inside, and open windows and doors to improve air circulation.
  • Create a seating chart. Indoors or outdoors, having a seating arrangement (including separate tables), with adequate distance between guests, can reduce the risk of transmission, since masks cannot be worn while eating and drinking.
  • Wear masks when not eating. You may think it silly to wear a mask around your family, but it is the safest way to protect yourself and others from asymptomatic spread of the virus.
  • Avoid family-style buffets. Your recipes are delicious and you look forward to preparing a delicious meal, or contributing your family’s favorite dish, as always, but doing a family-style buffet is not a good idea during a pandemic. Instead, hosts should prepare individual plates for guests and have one person act as a server, so everyone can stay seated without unnecessary mingling. A suggestion from Thanksgiving is to have each family bring their own meals to enjoy picnic-style, instead of potluck-style.
  • Keep sanitizers handy. It is recommended that you have extra disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer available for guests. Keep plenty of soap near sinks for proper hand-washing and a canister of disinfecting wipes in the bathroom, so your guests can wipe faucets and handles after use.
  • Alter entertainment options. Instead of board and card games with family and friends this year, find a holiday movie or television special you can watch together while socially-distanced. This prevents multiple hands touching various cards and game pieces which can spread contagions.
  • Safe gift-giving is allowed. COVID-19 is thought to be primarily spread through close contact with others and not on surfaces, so disinfecting gifts should not be necessary, unless it’s been sneezed or coughed upon. Wear masks when exchanging gifts, remove wrapping paper, wash your hands and enjoy! As hard as it may be, try not to hug your loved ones in gratitude, but if you must, please wear a mask and turn your face away from their faces as much as possible.

If a compassionate Home Helpers® caregiver can help you or a senior loved one stay healthier at home during the holidays and beyond, I am available to schedule a FREE Consultation, at your convenience, to assess specific needs, and find the perfect caregiver match! Call me today for more information: 727.942.2539.

We, at Home Helpers® Clearwater, are honored to have received the Home Care Pulse – Best of Home Care® Provider of Choice Award for 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020. We proudly serve male and female seniors in Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Holiday, New Port Richey, Trinity, Port Richey, Hudson and surrounding areas. Home Helpers®…we are Making Life Easier℠

Sources:

CDC

Good Housekeeping

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