Elderly Care: Celebrating Thanksgiving Safely During COVID

Beginner's guide to home care

As with most things in 2020, Thanksgiving this year is going to be unlike any other, including for seniors in home care. The recent surge in cases of COVID-19 all over the country have left many families wondering what to do about a holiday that is characterized by large family gatherings and travel. The problem is especially difficult for families with seniors at home, as the elderly are among the highest risk for serious complications from COVID. The dilemma is clear: families with elderly relatives worry that they may not have another chance to celebrate together, and that children may miss out on seeing their grandparents.

But the risks of COVID are real, and experts say that in-home gatherings are largely driving the recent spike in cases. With the holidays approaching, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended caution in planning Thanksgiving celebrations.

Home Help for Seniors: Traveling for the Holiday

In 2019, AAA reported more than 55 million Americans drove at least 50 miles for Thanksgiving, while another 31 million traveled by airplane. With the devastating twin effects of the pandemic and the associated economic crisis, that number is expected to be far lower this year. Many families are asking the question: is it safe travel? Here are some tips for staying safe during holiday travel:

  1. If the destination is within a days’ drive, travel by car rather than by airplane. Being in a car allows more control over how many other people come in contact. Remember, it’s not just the flight time, but also check-in, waiting in the airport, boarding, exiting the plane, and collecting baggage that increase exposure to others.
  2. Isolate before traveling, and check restrictions for your destination. Some places have different requirements for travel, which can usually be found on public health department
  3. When driving, minimize the number of stops. Bring plenty of snacks, and try to combine bathroom breaks with refueling stops whenever possible. Wear masks whenever leaving the car, and use hand sanitizer when you get back into the car.
  4. Staying with family is generally safer than staying in a hotel. If you must stay in a hotel, look for hotels where the rooms open directly to the outside and that have individual ventilation units.
  5. Don’t. The safest travel is staying home.

Senior Care: Celebrating Safely

Whether traveling or staying local, the Thanksgiving celebration itself can be a tough problem to solve. It’s pretty difficult to eat turkey through a mask, so other accommodations need to be made. When planning a “local gathering” (that is, a celebration involving people from different households but that doesn’t involve overnight travel), consider the following:

  • Eat outdoors. An outdoor meal, weather permitting, while maintaining proper social distancing, is generally safer than eating indoors.
  • If an indoor meal is impossible, consider leaving some windows near the dining room open to improve ventilation.
  • Maintain 6 feet of distance as much as possible, wear masks except when eating, and wash hands frequently.
  • Consider hosting somewhere else. It may be tradition to gather at Grandma’s house, but limiting grandma’s exposure to other people may mean it’s safer to host at someone else’s home and just have grandma come for dinner. Instead of being in the kitchen surrounded closely by others, she can stay safer by sitting 6 feet apart with a mask on in the living room.

The CDC has recommendations for celebrating safely.


Making the Tough Choice: Caring for Elderly Relative at Home

For many families this year, the reality is that they won’t be able to celebrate Thanksgiving together. While that’s sad, especially for kids who want to visit with their grandparents, there are some things families can do to help take the sting out of this difficult time.

  • Make a nontraditional meal. Always wanted to try deep-frying your turkey? How about a turducken? With fewer guests to please, make this the year you branch out.
  • DIY Turkey Trot. The local 5K may be cancelled, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want to work of a few calories before dinner. Dress up in your best turkey costumes and go for a family jog around the neighborhood. Just remember to keep six feet away from anyone else who may join in the fun!
  • Popular video call platform Zoom has announced that they are lifting the 40 minute limit on sessions for free accounts on Thanksgiving. Now you can have Thanksgiving dinner together virtually.
  • Still want to cook a big meal? Face it, some of us just don’t know how to make mashed potatoes for less than 20 people. In that case, consider getting some disposable meal containers and (safely) delivering a plate to an elderly neighbor.

This Thanksgiving will be unlike any that has come before. In order to celebrate safely, families need to do some careful consideration and planning And though it may seem like a paradox, those plans will need to be flexible, because the situation could change at any moment.

Home Care Powered by AUAF Can Help Seniors At Home

Our dedicated in-home caregivers can provide any number of services that will help seniors navigate the Thanksgiving holiday From help with grocery shopping to assistance with technology for virtual celebrations, an in-home caregiver can make things easier for seniors Call us at 773-274-9262 or contact us to find out more.

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