Many caregivers are wondering whether to host or attend family gatherings with parents who are seniors, or other family members who are more vulnerable either because of age or underlying health conditions. Elizz has already written a blog on how to say “no” to indoor family gatherings and how to have virtual gatherings with someone who has dementia. This blog sets out tips for indoor family gatherings during a pandemic, if that is the decision you and your family make.
The big decision: how to get together with family during the holidays
This is a tough decision to make. Being with family and friends to celebrate holidays and events is what we humans do -whether it is, Hanukah, or Christmas, Kwanzaa or New Years. There are strong traditions and a powerful emotional desire to gather.
At the same time, the risks of spreading and contracting the coronavirus are real. Many government and health officials have strongly recommended avoiding gathering with others outside of our immediate household, or only in certain numbers or to consider outside gatherings like picnics in the park. Being outside for a gathering would be considerably more appealing, of course, if Christmas was in July and not December in the Northern hemisphere!
Make an informed decision
At the very least, I urge you to make an informed decision. Using a decision aid can help determine risk when it comes to visiting with family this holiday season. While some are saying “no” to indoor family gatherings this year because of the risks, others are opting for such a gathering. Given this decision, the next question is how this indoor gathering can be made as safe as possible.
Tips on how to help make an indoor gathering as COVID safe as possible
- Let everyone know the ‘rules’ beforehand. You want all family members to be aware and agree with how this indoor family gathering will be done differently this year.
- Wear masks, except when eating or drinking (I know, that probably means not much mask time!)
- Use tape or chalk to mark the physical distancing guideline of 6 meters. You can also have chairs already distanced out 6 meters and ask guests not to move them.
- Have some outside activities as well, if possible.
- Restrict length of time of gathering. The less concentrated time together, the safer it will be.
- Avoid singing, chanting or shouting. (In other words, avoid conversations about political topics).
- Consider a combination of virtual and in-person guests.
- Have guests bring their own supplies (drinks, plates, cups, glasses, utensils/cutlery, and maybe even food). Alternately, use disposal items (and help the environment by splurging on biodegradable products).
- Avoid everyone going in and out of the kitchen where food is being handled.
- Have one person serve all the food. No self-service this year (no matter how much you like doubling up on your favourite).
- No sharing from big bowls this year. Individual bowls for all family members. This also effectively takes care of the double-dipping problem!
- Open windows and doors to increase air circulation. (You can decide if it is too crass to ask for heating bill donations).
- Don’t worry about the bathroom. It is “absolutely safe” to share a toilet. Wash your hands thoroughly afterwards of course, and don’t use a shared hand towel to dry your hands. There should be individual towelettes, one of which can be used for the door handle on your way out as this is where the greatest risk is in the bathroom.
- Have disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer distributed throughout the common spaces. Use liberally.
With these tips for indoor family gatherings, you can reduce the risks when hosting or attending an indoor family gathering. COVID isn’t letting up. Neither should we.
Are you planning or attending an indoor family gathering this holiday season? Let us know what you are doing to make it COVID unfriendly.