One of the hardest things about the COVID-19 precautions is not being able to see your loved ones during the holidays. However, gathering together can be one of the more dangerous things you can do during the pandemic. This post is designed to help you figure out how best to celebrate this special time while keeping your loved ones safe and healthy.
We all want to be with family this holiday season, especially since it is very easy to feel a little worn down by the long and challenging restrictions imposed by COVID-19 for most of the year. But now, with promising developments and the change in seasons, it is all the more important to be careful. Remember that there are still necessary steps everyone can take to remain safe during this crucial time.
Here at Waunakee Manor, we know how important family is, as well as your health and safety. I’ve put together a few tips for how best to stay safe while keeping the warmth of the holiday spirit.
While we have a lot of experience with this subject, this guide is not intended to replace or supersede any guidelines and advice from medical professionals or government agencies. These tips are based on our best understanding of the information at the time of posting and are not all encompassing.
Know Your Risk
First of all, make sure you assess and understand your risk as this depends on many factors, and these are still changing often.
- Be sure to connect with your loved one’s community, caregivers, or anyone else who supports them. Whether that’s us or someone else, it is essential that everyone is on the same page, and you have all the information you need.
- More importantly, understand your loved one’s risk category. They can be high-risk simply due to their age, but be sure to assess additional factors and comorbidities. Especially for those under 65, it is essential to understand underlying conditions that may put them at higher risk.
- Even with no symptoms, you may still be spreading COVID-19. Get tested, take precautions, and stay vigilant.
- Check your local area and anywhere you plan to travel. If cases, hospitalizations, or deaths are rising — BE CAUTIOUS. This goes for visitors from out of town as well. Check the metrics for where they are traveling, to understand your and your loved ones’ potential exposure.
I hope that after assessing your unique situation and risk, you’ll understand the need for social distancing or remote celebration of your holidays. Here are some ideas to preserve the holiday spirit and stay safe.
- Make a Video — You can make something fancy or sweet and simple. These days, it is easy to use a cellphone or home movie camera to make a special video for your loved one. Even a digital picture slideshow can let them know that they’re in your thoughts.
- Send a Nice Card — You can send them a good ole fashion physical greeting card or a fun digital one. Whatever you decide on, have each family member sign the card with holiday greetings, something they are thankful for, or a nice sentiment.
- Save a Place for Them — Pull up a chair at the dining table for your holiday feast or tradition. Place your loved one’s favorite things (especially food!) on the table and decorate the spot in their honor. Remember to take a picture of their place at the table, or wherever, and send it to them!
- If They Are Social Media Savvy, Do That! — Livestream your meal, tradition, or anything else that makes the holidays special in a private family Facebook or on another social media platform. If social media is a bit overwhelming for your loved one, you can always download the video to show them later.
What We Are Doing Here At Waunakee
We will be making our own special preparations at Waunakee Manor. If your loved one is here with us, please reach out to our community and ask how we can help connect you and your family with them this holiday. Feelings of togetherness are what make the holidays special and the Waunakee Manor experience unique. These celebrations and special connections are what turn a group of folks living together into a community, a family. We’re committed to ensuring your holiday is as special as it can be.
However, your loved one’s safety is always our first priority, as is adhering to appropriately cautious and practical guidelines that help protect you, your family, and your loved one. We take pride in our commitment to safety and ensuring that you know your loved one is in caring hands this holiday season.
- We Are Here to Help — We will always be there to help our community members with video calls, phone calls, and assistance reading cards, letters, and anything else they might receive in the mail.
- We’re Doing What We Can — There will be socially distanced visits and community activities if our precautions are met. Please continue to check in with us and be patient as we all navigate this bustling season together.
- We’re Keeping up Traditions — We will have our annual Secret Santa as well as Elf Game — where our staff and residents must find the hidden elf each day to enter a drawing for festive prizes!
- We’ll Even Be Getting out a Little, Too! — Everyone could use a little field trip after these long months. So we’ll be doing one in style when we take our community members on a tour around Waunakee to check out the beautiful Christmas lights. We always have so much fun looking at all the beautiful houses!
If you do not have a loved one with us or in another senior living community, and you do decide to celebrate in person, be sure to keep up with your precautions. This is important, even if your loved one joins you remotely.
- Don’t Relax Your Restrictions — This winter season is already seeing a significant increase in cases of COVID-19. Even with a possible vaccine on its way, now is not the time to let your guard down.
- Continue with the Basics — Keep washing your hands, don’t touch your face, and wear a face mask.
- Keep Your Distance (Social and Otherwise) — If you do see your loved ones, keep a 6-foot distance, don’t hug (even while wearing face masks), and wash your hands. Keep all gatherings outdoors.
- Limit Gatherings — Even better, don’t have gatherings at all. It is still best to limit contact with others as much as possible. This is the only way to be completely safe.
- Be Self Aware — Pay attention to how you feel. If you experience any COVID-19 symptoms, don’t ignore them. Check your temperature often, especially before leaving the house or seeing others.
- If You’ve Been Exposed, Quarantine — We know that it sometimes feels overly cautious and even invasive, but if you even think you may have been exposed, have any symptoms, or are going to visit anyone, practice proper quarantine procedures.
Hang On A Bit Longer And Always Be On The Safe Side
With all the developments and improvements in understanding and fighting COVID-19, we are closer than ever to a return to something like normal life. It is quite possible that by this time next year, we will be able to hold gatherings for the celebrations we have had to miss out on this holiday season. So for the safety of yourself and your loved ones, hang on for just a little longer. Together, we can find the strength to wait out these months until we can gather together once more.
Until then, my team and I are here to guide you through making the most of this situation. Please reach out anytime with questions about how to celebrate the season safely, and how, especially here at Waunakee Manor, we will be doing just that.
To schedule a special call or visit with your loved one, please contact Social Services (for our Skilled Nursing community members) or Amanda (for our AL/IL community members) at 608-849-5016.