Your elderly loved one, whether they currently reside in a senior living community or within their own home, is being faced with a holiday season that is filled with newly coined phrases like “social distancing,” “window visits,” and “quarantine.”

It is safe to say that they have probably never experienced such undesired circumstances during a holiday season in all their life.

This heartbreaking reality is a stern reminder of how important connection is to our overall mental and emotional well-being. As we age, this connection becomes even more important, having a dramatic impact on our physical state as well.

As Christmas and the New Year quickly approach, the Nightingale Healthcare team would like to share a few simple ways to lessen the social-emotional impact that social distancing mandates will have on your elderly loved one, and how you can help make this season as safe and bright as possible by keeping their hearts full and their minds occupied.

Decorate for the Holidays

Nothing says, “Happy holidays!” like decorations. Package up and deliver some of your loved one’s holiday favorites with a “decoration kit” that includes special family ornaments, a hand-made wreath adorned with family keepsakes, a small tree to brighten up their home, festive holiday snacks, and other festive decorations.

If your loved one is at one of our assisted living or nursing facilities, please ask our staff to help arrange the decorations in their room or apartment for you.

Fox Hollow Senior Living (Eugene, OR) executive director, Ashley Tart, dresses up as the Grinch to bring smiles to her residents.


Remain Connected

Social distancing practices have been in place for months, but that does not make it any easier. If you have not yet become adept at technological options for communicating with your loved one, consider setting up FaceTime, Zoom or Skype accounts so you can “see” one another. These virtual visits help keep us connected when in-person visits are not possible. If your loved one is at a Nightingale facility, just ask one of our compassionate team members to help coordinate a call for you. We are always happy to help and have designated tablets specifically for this type of communication!

While it is an old-fashioned thing to do, writing letters is also a heartwarming way keep in touch. Email and social media may be more immediate, but there is something delightful about getting a handwritten letter in the mail, especially from children. Enlist the grandkids to draw pictures or write holiday greetings, and either hand-deliver them or drop them in the mail. Either way, we are sure they will be well received.

Residents of Sunnyside Assisted Living (Sunnyside, WA) enjoy a lighted holiday family car parade.

Get Creative with your Communication

While it is a bit more difficult to visit in-person these days, there are still a number of ways you can celebrate the holidays together.

  • Window visits allow face-to-face time while talking on the phone simultaneously allows you to hear one another’s voices during these visits.
  • Virtual Christmas caroling can be done through Zoom or FaceTime, allowing you to share your love through song and watch as your loved one’s face brightens up with every chorus!
  • If deemed appropriate, gather outside your loved one’s window, and safely sing Christmas carols to them.
  • Schedule a call with your loved one and recite poetry or read from one of their favorite books.

Local YMCA sing carols during a window visit at Spruce Point Assisted Living (Florence, OR).

Keep Family Holiday Traditions

Keeping holiday traditions alive is important. You may not be able to follow all of them right now but choose to continue the traditions you still can do.

Card exchanges are an easy and heartfelt way to keep your elderly loved one a part of the celebrations and family traditions. Send your elderly loved one a few blank greeting cards (with stamps and addresses) and encourage them to send some out. In return, encourage family members to write and mail your elderly loved one holiday greetings as well.

Ask family members what they would like to do to help out. Since some holiday traditions may fall away, now is a good time to start some new ones.

A resident at Spruce Point Assisted Living (Florence, OR) writes Christmas card greetings.

It Is Never Too Late to Start

Make it a priority to stay in touch before and during the holidays. It does not matter if you make a phone call, schedule time for a virtual visit, or write a letter.

Keep up the habit after the holidays too. It is true that the holidays can be an especially difficult time for some people. It is also true that loneliness can directly affect health, so keeping in touch long after the holidays are over is invaluable.

Residents enjoy heartfelt window visits from their friend, Gunnar the Holiday Horse, at Summit Place Assisted Living (Bellingham, WA).

At Nightingale Healthcare communities, our staff become a like a second family to those we serve. We are committed to showering the individuals under our roof with the joy of the season, now and throughout the new year. Let us know if you need help staying connected or require our assistance with any of the above mentioned ideas.

Collectively, we are confident we can make the holidays jolly for our elderly loved ones despite this pandemic and social mandates.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!