1. Start the conversation about holiday plans and concerns, as soon as possible. Be open and honest with your feelings. Share the facts, and refer to trusted public health guidance to discuss your decision. The CDC recommendations that reference; for those hosting a small gathering, the CDC has specific guidance for ventilation, travel, masks, seating arrangements, duration of gathering and more. Check out the article: “Considerations for Hosting or Attending a Gathering
  2. Create an open, tolerant environment for all family members to confidently communicate their wishes about gathering virtually over the holidays, restrictions, masks, and being around each other, without feeling stressed out. Not sure what to say? Here’s a start: “I want to talk with you about how to handle the holidays this year. We are a close family and we want to keep everyone safe…”
  3. If your loved one is in a senior living facility, call ahead or visit the facility’s website for current restrictions on holiday visits. Consider their holiday plans or activities for residents as well, so you can avoid scheduling conflicts for your loved one. Communicate as soon as possible with the facility about what time your virtual or in-person visit will be, limitations on the number of guests, limitations on bringing or sending gifts and visiting time limits.
  4. Gathering on Zoom or similar platforms is a great way to stay connected with loved ones and reduce stress. Host a run through before the holidays to make sure everyone has access to, and is comfortable with, the technology. Consider multiple small gatherings on Zoom, which have a more intimate feel rather than hosting a large group. Schedule different times – one for the grandkids, another time with dad, another one with a group of friends. There are many other ways to incorporate holiday traditions virtually this year such as online religious services, cooking and more.
  5. Recognize the challenges everyone is experiencing. Talk to friends and family about your challenges, and brainstorm solutions. Stress is easier to handle when you have the support and encouragement from your network. It’s critical for caregivers to find ways to reduce their stress and stay healthy this time of year. Caregivers are the backbone of our families. Connect with a caregiver in your family and offer support – it’s important for them to feel valued and safe.