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Getting Through the Holidays During the COVID Pandemic

Reasonable thoughts from a Geriatric Nurse Care Manager & Daughter
By: Hildy Sheinbaum, RN Director of Senior Placement Services, Sterling Care Senior Living Choices LLC


If you feel as I do, then you might be having pangs of angst and definite moments of pandemic fatigue, just trying to get through these next few months as the vaccine begins to extend its wings and provide us with protection and some much-needed relief from all of this surrealism.

I thought I would write a short posting this month, a vignette- if you will, that would be lighthearted and without some of the seriousness that surrounds caring for aging seniors. It is so clear that our older population is in uncharted territory — and amidst their fear about contracting a virus that could prove fatal to them (albeit some refuse to keep that mask on properly and continue to frequent indoor restaurants) they are spending little time with loved ones and are unable to avail themselves of many of the freedoms that would typically allow them to spend each minute as though it may be their last. So, what can we do to make things a bit easier during this time as we approach the holidays?

1.Divert attention away from health

Did you ever notice how our aging parents fixate about their health? Whether it is an ingrown toenail, a cold sore, a stomachache or a cold, the bothersome issue is a monumental concern that often gets blown out of proportion. I have found that it is helpful to re-direct (as long as it’s not an emergency situation) by engaging in conversation that is totally unrelated to a health issue. So when your mom tells you that she needs to go get the little pimple on her cheek checked out immediately, or your dad tells you its once again time for a dental cleaning (it’s been 3 months), begin talking ad nauseum about a favorite family vacation, OR the vaccine, OR the closing of a favorite old-time restaurant, OR who the new host on Jeopardy might be—anything you know that will be of interest. Make sure you have some facts or news to share in order to hold your parent’s attention so that you can speak for a while – long enough to allow them to forget about the ailment they were complaining about. Yes, this is a test of your patience for sure, but it truly works wonders to engage them about something different— and has an added benefit of providing you with a little respite from yet another trip to the doctor.

2. Order a special meal from GoldBelly

Likely your parents are sick and tired of their own cooking, your cooking, or their caregiver’s or community’s cooking. I don’t know if you are familiar with the Goldbelly website. If not, it is a must… Goldbelly is a “curated marketplace for gourmet foods and food gifts.” It hosts a wide variety of restaurants across the U.S. under one website and brings specialty cuisine to your/your loved one’s doorstep. There are detailed descriptions of hundreds of meals to send—including lobster rolls from Maine, a Chanukah Challah Menorah from Zabars, a specialty cheesecake from the Nuns of New Skete in upstate New York (the best cheesecake you will ever eat!), a chocolate babka from Russ & Daughters, or an Italian Sandwich Kit from Alidoro’s in SOHO. Guaranteed this will be the talk of the week (maybe even the month!) and will bring a smile to any parent’s face, as well as provide them with a nice change-of-pace meal.

3. Order a comfortable pair of slippers from the Git-up store on Amazon

These adjustable, supportive slippers with memory foam are a nice welcome relief to the old, dangerous slippers that your parents don’t want to part with.

Check them out on
Comfortable slippers for seniors

They’re so comfortable that your mom or dad will have no choice other than to embrace them! Definitely the most senior-friendly and safe slippers I’ve come upon

4. Order a book and a handheld magnifying glass

While many of our seniors love to read, they struggle with their eyesight- even with glasses. A handheld magnifying glass can be so helpful and give them the ability to see the fine print (that’s actually not so small).

Check them out on AmazonMagnifying glass for seniors

5. Online events

While computers and technology can pose a problem for many of our seniors, Facebook does make it easy for you to sign your parent up for a virtual event that just involves a click of a link. For parents who love travel, there are upcoming tours of Paris, Berlin, Jerusalem, Gaudi’s Barcelona, just to mention a few. There are holiday light shows, concerts and much more. Go to Facebook and search events where you will find a full listing of incredible programs for all ages. It’s easy to sign up and then set up the computer for your parents to watch or listen. Additionally, the 92nd street Y in New York City is now offering virtual events that are likely to be of interest to our seniors. This week, for example, there are conversations with Dr. Fauci, and Alan Alda who is speaking about his new audiobook, Soldiers of Science. Very often, just simply connecting with a familiar face from the past can bring great happiness to a senior.

6. Take a trip down memory lane…

And perhaps throw in some phrases from a native language. Just this week, I had a virtual interview with a client who has memory impairment. I asked a series of questions about his health and current events- trying to ascertain what he remembered. He answered quietly and in a reserved manner but wasn’t too engaged. However, when I responded to him playfully using a Yiddish expression, his face lit up, he chuckled, and then went on to chat with me with ease. We spoke about where he grew up, his parents, and his younger school days. While he couldn’t remember the name of the current President, he was quite able to recall his childhood days as well as the meaning of a number of Yiddishisms that I threw out to him. The enthusiasm he showed was truly heartwarming. So the moral of the story— Google away to learn some expressions in your parent’s ancestral tongue. It will certainly brighten their day and will enrich you- as well as warm your heart when you see the response.


Would love to hear about your experiences during the holidays- and any tidbits you can share that bring your loved ones some happiness and laughter. Feel free to email me at [email protected].


Cheers to a happy and healthy holiday season. Here’s hoping that 2021 brings peace to all.


Be sure to view the 2nd part of this series here.

Hildy Sheinbaum

Hildy Sheinbaum is a Registered Nurse and Certified Dementia Practitioner (CDP). Along with Steven Katz, she started the senior placement service at Sterling Care, a CMS 5-star certified home health agency based in Greenwich, CT. She is currently the Director of Sterling Care Senior Living Choices.

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