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Senior woman with mask sitting in a chair looking up at younger woman who has her hands on the senior woman’s shoulders

5 Tips for Safe Holiday Visits to Your Loved One

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Winter is a magical time when family and friends come together to enjoy a variety of holiday traditions. If you have a loved one who is living in a senior living community, chances are you are planning to visit them in their home at some point this winter.

However, with the rise of COVID-19, visits to your loved one’s community require a bit more preparation than they previously did. It’s important you do your part to help keep your loved one, their neighbors and caregivers, and yourself safe this holiday season.

Many of the steps you will take to protect your loved one aren’t any different than what you would do when visiting a store, church, or any other place outside your home. What’s particularly difficult is not touching or getting too close to your loved one. Read on for 5 tips to help protect your loved one during the holidays.

Contact the Community

The first thing you will need to do is contact your loved one’s community. Many communities are limiting visits. If your loved one’s community is allowing visitors, they will still likely want you to schedule your visit ahead of time, and they may require that you visit with your loved one outdoors or separated by a window or glass door. It’s a good idea to contact the community’s staff as far ahead of your visit as possible so you can reserve a spot if the number of visits they’re allowing is limited.

Practice Good Hygiene

Just as you’re likely already doing when heading out into public, practice good personal hygiene ahead of and during your visit. Wash your hands thoroughly and often, and use hand sanitizer often after touching surfaces or doorknobs. And, just as you would wear a mask to the store, be sure to keep your mask on for the entirety of your visit. It may feel unnatural and strange, but it’s important to be diligent.

When it comes to expressing your love for your loved one through touch, many people have adopted a greeting using the elbow. If in-home visits are allowed at your loved one’s community, this can be a safer way to give your loved one a “hug.”

Put Extra Thought Into Your Gifts

Your gifts are likely always thoughtful, but this year go for gifts that are especially soothing and heartfelt. A new photo album, framed pictures, or a digital picture frame can help your loved one feel special and surrounded in love. A soft, comfy blanket or housecoat is another way to help your loved one feel a little less isolated. You also might consider putting together a care package for your loved one. You can add some family photos, games, snacks and candy, as well as personal care items like bath salts, hand lotion, and perfume or nail polish.

Just as you would if visiting, it’s a good idea to coordinate dropping off gifts with the staff at your loved one’s community. Call ahead and let them know when and what you will be bringing by.

Use Virtual Visits

Even if you are able to visit your loved one, you may want to consider also arranging virtual visits. Many seniors are especially isolated right now, with community activities at a minimum and staff limiting their interactions with residents. It’s important to stay connected and let them know they are loved. A virtual visit is also a great way to share the outside world with your loved one and help them feel included – take them for a “walk” around your neighborhood to see the holiday lights, set the device at the end of your table and enjoy a family meal together, or share other events that they would enjoy if they were able to leave their community.

Even if your loved one is not technologically savvy, many communities have employees on staff who will be happy to set your loved one up on an electronic device. Possibly even their own, personal device. Call your loved one’s community and ask if this is an option.

Remember to Be Thankful

However you celebrate the holidays with your loved one, whether it’s in person or virtually, it’s important to highlight how lucky you are to have one another. Many families have suffered heartbreaking losses this year. Celebrate your loved one’s good health, however fragile, and vow to do your part to help keep them safe as we wait for a coronavirus vaccine.

To learn what Brightwater Senior Living is doing to help keep residents safe, call our team today or visit our website. For more tips on celebrating the holidays with your loved one, visit the Brightwater Senior Living blog.