UK HealthCare

Staying Safe this Holiday Season

Virtual celebration
Photo credit: Sasha_Suzi, iStock / Getty Images Plus.

The University of Kentucky Public Relations & Strategic Communications Office provides a weekly health column available for use and reprint by news media. This week's column is by Kelly Parsons, a social worker at the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging Clinic.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 18, 2020) With the Holidays upon us and families making plans to see loved ones virtually or in person, there are steps you can take to ensure the season is safe and festive for everyone.

According to the CDC, the lowest risk for the spread of COVID-19 is virtual gatherings:

Video chat can be done over multiple platforms to include Facetime, Zoom and Houseparty. If you plan to see your loved one via video chat, it is important they understand how to use the application. A test run will help them become familiar with the software and ensure everyone can be present and engaged.

It can feel difficult to connect over the internet, some activities that will help develop a sense of togetherness:

  • Cook together: This can be simple desserts like Biscuit Apple Pie with apple sauce, Rice Crispy treats, or Coconut Joys
  • Play Games: 20 questions; one person thinks of something and each person takes a turn asking yes or no questions, the winner is the one that guesses it correctly. Photo games can be a fun way to connect. You can play guess the city skyline or upload old photos of people and each person guesses who is in the photo. You can also break into teams and play spot the difference.

If you do plan an in-person visit this Holiday season some safety measures you can take include:

No more than two households’ together. Persons over age 2 wear a mask and stay 6 feet apart. If indoors, open windows for ventilation. Outside gatherings are the safest. Bring your own food, drink, and utensils. If you are eating the same food, have one person serve it and use disposable tableware. Sanitize surfaces often, wash hands frequently, and don’t touch your face.

Before gathering each person should take their temperature. If they have a fever, cough, lost taste or smell - the household should not attend.

Skip the handshakes and hugs this year.

If you want to see family, but understand the danger of inside gatherings, meeting outside for dessert might be a good alternative for festive memories each household get in their own car and all do a caravan of lights together.

While the Holidays look different this year, it is important to check on older family members to ensure they are staying connected.

Loneliness can cause health problems and lead to depression. Intentional connections can help avoid chronic loneliness. Your local Area on Aging can connect you with the Senior Center in the area, most Senior Centers are doing lots of unique engaging social activities.

Check in with older adults to ensure they continue to get regular medical checkups and prescription refills as needed. Ask them if they are having trouble sleeping or lost weight. Ensure there is a box of disposable masks for anyone that might come into their home.

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