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Ways to safely bring joy to older relatives over Christmas

Many older people and their loved ones are taking special precautions to stay healthy, including limiting or eliminating visits and other activities that can cause COVID-19 to spread. During this festive period it is important to enjoy Christmas safely.

While these important steps help keep older people physically healthy, they can have a negative impact on mental well-being. Many elderly people already felt isolation before COVID-19 limitations. Now that many activities and interactions they previously enjoyed are no longer an option, this can be particularly disheartening, especially during the Christmas period.

Fortunately, with a bit of creativity and outside-the-box thinking, friends and family can still bring joy to older loved ones to elevate the human spirit even from afar. Here are Comfort Keepers’ top tips on how to enjoy Christmas safely this year.

Send joy in the post

Many older people still hold close the art of the handwritten letter, so try sitting down and writing out your thoughts to share with a loved one. An alternative would be a greeting card with positive thoughts for the future. While sending post for special occasions is always a welcome idea, consider sending letters periodically just to brighten the day.

Spread Christmas cheer

There are many ways to virtually celebrate the Christmas period. You can decorate a tree in an older loved one’s garden or leave a gift basket or greeting card on their doorstep. Other traditional Christmas activities that you can still do include carolling, gift-giving and baked goods exchanges. Take the time to plan the big celebration days, but don’t forget about bringing daily doses of joy throughout the season.

Share meaningful memories

Show older loved ones that you’re thinking about them by sending imagery of your times together over the past few years. This could be a photo either via text, email or post. You can also have children paint or draw their favourite memories with older loved ones. A picture is worth a thousand words and by sharing imagery of meaningful experiences you’re showing that you cherish time together also. And sharing photos can help older people feel connected and loved.

Make movie magic

Plan a time to virtually connect and watch a joyful movie together. It might be a classic, an option that’s been on your must-see list for a while, or a new release. A video meeting app can work best for this activity as it allows for easy interaction as you watch your flick, plus you can see each other’s reactions throughout the movie. You can learn more about these apps here. For older people who are less comfortable with technology, consider sending them your favourite film and theatre treats to enjoy, and share your thoughts together later over the phone.

Name that tune

Music is a special part of the human experience and our favourite songs can bring a smile any time of the year. Take time to make a playlist of your loved one’s favourite music and send it as a gift in whatever manner is most easily accessible, digital or on CD. You can also plan a list of different songs and play them on random and guess to see who gets the most song titles right the fastest. Video and phone calls are also a great time for a sing-along or impromptu serenade! 

Get grandkids in on the fun

For grandparents, grandkids are their pride and joy. Invite your kids of all ages to participate in activities, including singing contests, book reading, board games, crafts and more. Even a simple conversation sharing their interests, what’s happening at school and any craft projects can be lovely and is a wonderful way to celebrate Christmas safely.

Become baking buddies

If you both have the ability, it can be a fun experience to bake together simultaneously. You might try a new recipe or one that is a family tradition. Get all the ingredients ready and then set a time to meet online virtually to start chopping, mixing and blending until you bake and compare results. Kids love participating in kitchen adventures as well. You can also make your favourite treats and gift them to older people in your local area.

Read more about supporting older people’s mental health here.

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