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From the Neighborhood Press

Thanksgiving: building memories

Seniors across the nation are about to celebrate one of the most wonderful times of the year – Thanksgiving and the Christmas season. Whether you live in a retirement community, assisted living or nursing home, it’s the time to join in the festivities and take some moments to focus on the things we are thankful for. Family and friends are usually what comes to mind when celebrating the holidays. But neighbors and those in our communities who could even become some of our best friends, cannot be forgotten.

Connecting. Especially during these times, it’s very important to make special effort and surround ourselves with those we love. Perhaps this is the time of year you have looked forward to for months. And not without reason. Spending time with family and having a great time together with delicious food and good fun is something to remember year after year. Friends who come together can share wonderful times together catching up and looking forward to all the good things to come in the new year. Social activity is a key element of mental health for seniors and those of all ages. If you are still active, consider how you can make it possible to share the holidays with others. If you have a senior family member in assisted living, memory care or a nursing home, make sure they are at the top of your list for the holiday festivities. Here is a look at how to make memories this holiday season while still being cautious about health risks.

A Safe Environment

While family is the center of how we usually celebrate the holidays, seniors must be aware of the environment they will be exposed to and their health. While vaccines are now available and many are fully vaccinated, it’s still advisable to keep on top of CDC and state health recommendations and stay safe. If you live in a retirement community surrounded by other seniors, you may have opportunities to mingle with others who are also in a protected environment. Celebrating and sharing traditions with your neighbors in these situations may lead to surprising new friendships. Still, it’s important to follow all health guidelines when out and about, and when inviting others into your home. Find out what your senior community is currently recommending to keep residents safe. Holiday festivities or events may be organized in a safe environment.

Family and friends. Family and friends can still be a big part of this season. Fire up the iPads or laptops and go virtual! Seniors may be surprised to find that technology is quite simple to operate these days. If you need help, reach out to someone in your senior community or a family member who can walk you through the steps. You’ll probably need to download an app. Sign in and you’re ready to explore the world of virtual visits! Most laptops and iPads come equipped with a microphone and video camera built in so you won’t have to worry about need extra technology or equipment in most cases. Virtual visits are fun because you can become part of your family’s holiday festivities, just from a safe distance. Seeing your grandchildren, telling stories and perhaps even trying a virtual “toast” together might just be the highlight of your day as your own turkey dinner is cooking in the oven.

Travel. Retirement offers the time and flexibility to do the things you always dreamt of, such as traveling. You may be vaccinated and decide to venture out and visit loved ones abroad. Be sure to keep a close eye on CDC health recommendations for travel to different regions, as well as guidelines to keep you safe on your trip. It may also be a good idea to touch base with your doctor regarding travel plans. Taking a trip can be exciting, especially in the holiday season. Everyone seems just a little happier, a little more giving, a few more smiles behind those masks. Weather and other factors can influence your travel plans, so be aware of best travel options and plan on being flexible. Keep an eye on your airlines to see if there are delays or changes in flight plans. Trains can also experience various schedule changes or may have different health related requirements for their passengers. If you are a senior that dreads the long walks across airports and need some extra assistance, you’ll be happy to know that airlines offer wheelchair assistance if you request it.

However you plan to spend the holidays, be sure to connect with others, even if it is from a distance. It will fill your heart and home with happiness and bring warmth that is unique to the holiday season. Stay safe, and enjoy some good food, laughter and wonderful times together!

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