Senior Health

11/16/2020 | By Annie Tobey

This Thanksgiving threatens to be like none other. Families will be separated not just by miles, but also because of safety precautions made necessary by the coronavirus pandemic. The separation can be especially hard on senior loved ones. They may have already been fighting loneliness caused by physical distancing. Missing out on a family holiday gathering adds insult to injury. To compensate, we suggest some ways you can fight senior isolation this Thanksgiving.

Leading up to the Holiday

Some ideas require a bit of advanced preparation. For the joy they bring to your loved one’s day, they’re worth every minute! Some suggestions depend upon what technology everyone has at their disposal – computers, Internet, video or audio players, etc.

  • Have family members write a letter to open and read on Thanksgiving Day. These can be memories, words of gratitude, and other special thoughts. Include photographs and children’s hand-drawn pictures.
  • Have family members videotape or record a message that seniors can listen to during the day. Undoubtedly, they’ll listen to the message many times over, even when the holidays end. The lasting effects will really help fight senior isolation this Thanksgiving.
  • Create a scrapbook. This collection of memories will provide pleasure that keeps on giving. Use a three-ring notebook so you can keep adding pages and memories.
  • Send a DVD of a holiday movie, especially one that you have watched together.
  • Deliver a traditional holiday meal. This can come from your own kitchen if you’re nearby or from a meal delivery service. Considering that health experts assure us that the coronavirus doesn’t spread in food or food packaging, you won’t have to worry about infections.
  • Send decorations to perk up your loved one’s living space. If they’re living in a senior living community, you can enlist the staff to help. (Be sure to provide any materials staff might need, such as adhesive tape.)
  • Send something fun to help keep them occupied, like a jigsaw puzzle, puzzle book, craft kit, or book.

On the Day Of

If you’re preparing a holiday feast at home, Thanksgiving Day can be plenty busy, with precious little time to spare. To ensure time doesn’t slip away and that you don’t get too overwhelmed, enlist the help of other family members. Their assistance can ensure that you have time to reach out during the day to help raise your loved one’s spirits.

And don’t stop with just one contact! To really help fight senior isolation this Thanksgiving, make it truly a holiday to remember – in a very positive way!

  • Keep them updated throughout the day with phone calls, text messages, or Facetime check-ins – or all of the above!
  • Zoom with them during dinner and/or any other time of the day.
  • View slideshows of family memories together via screen-sharing.
  • Connect via phone, etc., specifically to talk about what each of you is grateful for.

The year 2020 has been a challenging one, which perhaps makes Thanksgiving even more important. After all, few things raise our spirits as much as expressing gratitude. We can connect with the people who matter the most and keep the thanks flowing and the smiles glowing.

Annie Tobey

Annie Tobey has been a professional writer and editor for more than 30 years. As editor of BOOMER magazine, she explored a diversity of topics of particular interest to adult children of seniors. When she’s not writing, she can be found running the trails or enjoying a beer with friends.

Annie Tobey