Caregiving Safely During a Socially-Distanced Holiday Season

Posted on 11/24/20 by Aimee Knight

With the ongoing pandemic, holidays will look different this year and caregivers may need to get creative about checking in on their loved ones.

“Embrace the change,” said AARP caregiver expert Amy Goyer. “Know that it's temporary. We will get back to normal in the future but try some new traditions this year.”

In a Texas Bullhorn Facebook Live conversation with AARP Texas Director Tina Tran, Goyer suggested ways to celebrate the holidays safely during a social-distanced festive season.

Video-calling loved ones is a wonderful way to maintain social connection as well as a way to virtually check in on others’ mental wellbeing and physical spaces, Goyer said. 

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Pay attention to any changes: Is their clothing clean? How’s their mood? Asking your loved one to show you things around their house is a great way to check on their surroundings during a video call. Is their mail piling up? Are their plants dying?

“It could be that they’re having visual changes and they're not aware,” said Goyer. “It could be there are cognitive changes or it could be they’re feeling depressed. That's a really important thing to find out as well.”

Medications are one of the things we often monitor in person, but you can still ask, ‘did you take your pills today?’ If you notice something is off, get a clearer sense of the situation by swinging by for a window or outside visit. If the situation is severe, call the police for a wellness check. 

Goyer also suggests reaching out to local agencies, like the Area Agency on Aging, to ask about home-based services. “See if there's someone who could bring a meal every day if you’re unable to do so.”

Keeping spirits high by reminiscing or talking about favorite TV shows is a simple but effective way to provide cognitive stimulation and much-needed connection at a time when feelings of isolation are widespread.

Creative ways to celebrate the holidays include sending baked goods in the mail or decorating the outside of a loved one’s home. If they live in a facility, ask permission to decorate the outside of their window, Goyer said.

For caregivers, finding time for self-care is essential, particularly during this isolating time. “We have to all seek and accept help,” said Goyer, encouraging caregivers to find ways to fill their tanks. Sometimes it's simple things like making a cup of coffee, meditating or taking a walk. 

“Make that a priority this year,” she said. “Find a little bit of time every day to do something that makes you feel good.”

This story is provided by AARP Texas. Visit the AARP Texas page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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