How to Keep Seniors Safe From COVID-19 During the Holidays

As 2021 comes to a close, we can likely expect holiday celebrations to be a bit more normal than they were last year. While it is true that COVID-19 and variants are continuing to spread across the United States, primarily among unvaccinated individuals, disruptions to holiday travel and gatherings should remain relatively minor. 

However, with guidelines around the COVID-19 virus constantly changing, it is a good idea to be prepared and always know the latest information, especially if you anticipate visiting with your senior loved ones this holiday season. 

This year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended the following advice for celebrating the holidays with friends and family:  

  • Get vaccinated as soon as you can. This will protect you as well as those around you who may not be eligible for vaccination, such as children under 5 or immunosuppressed individuals.
  • Wear a snug-fitting mask when you’re in a public indoor setting, especially if it is not possible to know the vaccination status of those around you. 
  • Refrain from close contact with people who are sick or showing possible COVID-19 or cold symptoms.  
  • Clean high-touch surfaces and objects daily.
  • Avoid crowded, poorly ventilated places. 

Along with following the latest guidelines, here are a few other ways to keep your senior loved ones healthy this holiday season: 

1. Get tested for COVID-19

Testing can be very helpful for you and your senior loved ones. You can easily buy over-the-counter COVID-19 tests at drug stores or online. Before holiday gatherings with those not in your immediate household, consider this option. 

If you test positive, you should self-isolate rather than attend gatherings. A negative test result likely means that you do not have COVID-19, but repeating a second test at least 24 hours later can be a helpful confirmation and signify that you are safe to attend a holiday gathering. 

2. Rest after traveling

A long car or airplane ride can be hard on our older loved ones. Be prepared to offer your senior time to recuperate with a little television or a quick nap before inviting other visitors over or going on an excursion. 

They might easily become stressed if there is too much commotion or activity right after their arrival. Getting enough rest can also help lower stress levels, which boosts the immune system and promotes good health. 

3. Wash your hands

One of the most simple and effective ways to prevent spreading COVID-19, particularly at holiday gatherings, is to clean your hands often. It is best to wash your hands vigorously with soap and water for 20 seconds. You can also encourage your senior loved ones to keep hand sanitizer with them, particularly one containing at least 60% alcohol.

4. Stay hydrated

It is very important for senior citizens to be conscious of their water intake. Not drinking enough water can quickly lead to dehydration, a lowered immune system, or even hospitalization. To help them increase water intake, encourage your senior loved ones to keep a bottle of water easily accessible and nearby at all times, regardless of whether they are at home or on the go. 

To make it even easier for your senior to meet their daily hydration goal, consider gifting them a water bottle that tracks water intake or an adaptive cup that helps reduce spills and is easy to use. 

5. Keep up with an exercise routine

Exercise is essential for good health, especially as we age. Even if the weather is too cold during the holiday season to be outside comfortably, that is no excuse not to get moving! Indoor activities like balance work, one-on-one training and stretching are great ways to stay in shape during the colder months. 

Many senior citizens take regular trips to the local shopping mall to walk laps when it is cold outside, allowing them to stay warm, keep their muscles and joints healthy, and enjoy some window shopping in the process. 

Your senior loved ones can also reduce their risk of COVID-19 exposure by taking their mall walk in the morning before large crowds gather and wearing a mask. 

6. Make healthy food choices

The holidays are typically a time of indulgence, especially tasty seasonal food or drinks. However, the important thing to remember is not to overindulge.

For instance, if you know there will be a big dinner later in the evening on a specific day, make sure to encourage your adult parent or loved one to stay hydrated, snack on healthy food, and eat smaller meals in the hours leading up to this event.

Stay safe!

Collectively, we know a great deal more about COVID-19 than at this same time last year. Following CDC guidelines, such as getting vaccinated and wearing a mask when appropriate, will help everyone stay healthy. Between these guidelines and focusing on hydration, exercise, healthy eating, and handwashing, it absolutely is possible to safely gather with our senior loved ones this holiday season. 

**This blog post was published on December 5, 2021.

Ampoules with COVID-19 vaccine in a box to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

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