What a year it has been for all of us. I lost my mom last year around this time after many years in senior living facilities and caring for her in my home. We know that for most seniors, living in facilities this year should be much better than last in regards to Covid-19. Most workers in facilities have been vaccinated as have the residents. Masks are still required so that our loved ones can remain protected. Most importantly, visitors are allowed :) For those who are living with family, it is still important to be mindful of illness this year while still enjoying family time in a much more relaxed environment than in the past. The most important thing we can do for seniors who are not home with family this holiday is to make sure they are not alone all day. Make sure someone goes to visit them at some point. Perhaps a few different family members can stop by and spend a little time throughout the day. If you are having your own holiday at home and are not able to have mom or dad there, having grandchildren, friends or family stop by can still make the day a special one. Remember that it is ok if you are unable to have a senior loved one at your house for the holiday. For many of them, it is too much. As people get older sometimes they can't handle the noise, length of the day, and the effort it takes to travel to and from someone's house. Make sure to ask them how they feel about it and actually hear what they say. Most seniors are brutally honest :) If you do have a senior come join you at home for the holidays, just make sure to plan ahead. Make sure, logistically, your home will allow for an easy transition into the house. Make sure they can move around freely with walkers, wheelchairs, or canes if they have them. Obviously, for those of us with seniors who suffer from dementia or other mental limitations, it can also be a difficult time. Remember to think about what types of environments are difficult for your loved on. Maybe it's crowds or a certain noise level. Whatever it is you can remind other family members and help make a much more relaxed day for everyone. The most important thing for older people is to feel part of the day and to feel like they are still part of traditions and the group. This means including them in conversations and asking them questions to keep them engaged. Make sure to include any traditions you know they enjoy and just be thankful to be together. The world is changing and now more than ever we need to appreciate and love each other every day not just on the holidays. Seniors are just like younger people in that they want to be heard, spoken to, and appreciated. Just because we have to speak louder so they can hear us or it takes more time for them to get their food doesn't mean they appreciate the holiday any less. Whether they are staying put or joining your family dinner they just want to be with you. Wishing everyone caring for someone at home or those who have someone living in a senior living facility a very happy holiday.