Thanksgiving is the perfect time for family and friends to gather together; to enjoy good food and spend quality time with one another in a festive atmosphere! But as coronavirus cases surge across the United States, new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have some Thanksgiving hosts and guests rethinking their plans. The CDC recommends sharing meals only with those in your household or those in your quarantine “bubble”. However, some hard decisions will need to be made about your elderly loved ones.
Thanksgiving can often times be emotionally difficult for many seniors, leaving them feeling stressed or perhaps even lonely. But there are many ways to ensure that Thanksgiving can be enjoyable and stress-free for our elderly family and friends. Here are many ways to ensure that you and your elderly loved one will enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday.
1. Know the infection rates for your guests’ communities.
If positivity rates are increasing, health officials encourage participation in a virtual dinner or postponement to “springsgiving.”
Elderly and immunocompromised people should not attend in-person Thanksgiving dinner celebrations, especially if the rate of community spread is high or growing, and if the holiday will be celebrated indoors. The CDC notes that preparing food for high-risk neighbors and friends and delivering in a contactless way poses a low risk.
2. Check for any local restrictions or gathering limits.
Reduce risk by limiting the number of households in attendance or invite only family members who are local. If you are missing loved ones, a virtual dinner with family members who don’t live with you is one way to share the day with them.
3. Measure your available space and invite accordingly.
Before inviting people to your home, get ready to do a little rearranging.
What’s the size and layout of the space you are hoping to host in? Measure the space, or the table if you’re planning to share it, and invite only as many people that would allow you to maintain a truly safe distance—at least 6 feet apart. Even if your residence is large enough to host a small group of guests, and you can seat people at an appropriate distance, something to keep in mind is that when people are eating, their face mask will come off. Physical distancing is key, especially when everyone is unmasked during mealtime.
4. Get creative with your location and serving style.
There are many Thanksgiving traditions that everyone looks forward to enjoying with family and friends, but 2020 is the time to flip the script. Ventilation makes a big difference because the CDC now knows that the virus is transmitted mostly through close and prolonged contact with an infected person.
If you can, limit the number of people from different households cooking together in close proximity, either by ordering takeout, assigning cooking to one household, or if your group is local, doing dinner potluck style. If the weather is cooperative, try a cozy fire pit or barbecue cookout instead.
5. Ask everyone to take proper precautions for at least two weeks before Thanksgiving.
Ask invited guests to lower their risk well before Thanksgiving Day. If possible, it would be a good idea for family members to self-isolate as much as possible the weeks before everyone is together.
6. Practice good hygiene during the celebration.
What mom has been saying since we were children remains true, wash hands early and often. Do so for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. It is also recommended not to share food, drinks, utensils or other service ware.
Here are some other basic tips and strategies for Thanksgiving this year:
- Host a small group in a large, open space
- Request that face masks stay on when food and drink aren’t being consumed
- Open windows throughout the home for greater ventilation
- Use disposable tablecloths and service ware to make kitchen clean-up easier and to allow for surfaces to be disinfected sooner after the meal.
Every intervention you put in place will increase your ability to host a safer Thanksgiving dinner, although there is never zero risk. And more importantly, the last thing you want to bring with you is a virus. So, if you are not feeling well, please stay home.