For months, older adults have been following public health advice to stay home in an effort to reduce their risk of exposure to the coronavirus. But sheltering at home has meant that many have been unable to see family and friends or visit the places they enjoy.
Self-isolating in compliance with COVID-19 safety guidelines has created new health risks by leaving older adults even more socially isolated than before. Lack of frequent and meaningful social interactions raises the risk of depression and anxiety, in addition to cognitive decline.
As a result of the ongoing pandemic and the need for social distancing, it’s likely that we all know a loved one, friend or neighbor who may be spending the holidays alone this year or even in the hospital, where visitor restrictions are still in place. The good news? There are still plenty of ways you can safely spread holiday cheer to older adults this holiday season.
Prior to partaking in the below, please ensure you contact the recipient’s living facility, nursing home or hospital, if applicable, to ensure it meets their specific COVID-19 safety guidelines.
Send a winter-themed coloring page
Coloring is a fun activity for all ages and a great way to spread holiday cheer. Encompass Health has created coloring pages to help you get started. Once you complete a coloring sheet, mail your sheet to a local nursing home or living facility to share with residents, or drop it off on a neighbor’s doorstep. Want to make it more personalized? Consider adding a heartfelt message on the back of your sheet.
Click on the image to download a PDF for you to print your sheet and start coloring.
Record a video message
Virtual contact may not replace a hug or holding a hand, but it can still help bring a smile to the faces of older adults while protecting your health and theirs. A simple video message can make all the difference to those who may be spending the holidays alone this year.
Record a short message of yourself or your family wishing someone a happy holiday or a note of encouragement. Then find a local facility or nursing home to share it with, or send to a loved one or neighbor. To take it a step further, consider recording a series of short messages so they will always have a video to watch throughout the holiday season.
Sing holiday carols
According to Buddy the Elf, the best way to spread holiday cheer is singing loud for all to hear! Caroling is a great activity that can be done outdoors to ensure proper social distancing. Gather a small group – make sure to wear a mask and stand 6 feet apart – and visit a neighbor, nursing home or facility to sing a few classic holiday songs. You can also choose to record your songs and send in a video instead.
Become a volunteer
Volunteer organizations offer a variety of ways you can give back and raise the spirits of older adults this year. Knitting blankets or scarves, sewing masks and becoming a pen pal are some of the many ways you can make an impact from a distance. If you are interested in becoming a hospice volunteer for Encompass Health, click here for more information.