How to Host a Virtual Holiday Event with Family

When it comes to healthy aging, quite honestly, there’s a lot to do. You’re supposed to make sure to keep your body active and your brain engaged all while maintaining your social connections as well. Sure, the benefits to your overall well-being are worth the effort, but retirement is supposed to be a time with less responsibility on your plate, right? Well, it turns out that in senior living you can have your cake and eat it too, so to speak. Here’s how programs like our Vivid Life make keeping active, engaged, and connected easy and fun! 

Benefits of Healthy Aging 

Good things happen when you focus on healthy aging. In addition to feeling better overall, which in and of itself is a win, other benefits of keeping active, engaged, and connected include:  

  • Improved ability to do everyday things ​ 
  • Reduced impact of illness and chronic disease​ 
  • Enhanced mobility, flexibility, and balance
  • Improved sleep
  • Increased energy level
  • Reduced feelings of depression and stress
  • Increased feelings of happiness and self-confidence
  • Reduced risk of cognitive decline 
  • Increased mental adaptability and cognitive reserve 
  • Improved memory recall and problem-solving skills 
  • Improved concentration and attention to detail  

How Senior Living Can Help 

At home, particularly when living alone, it can be hard to stay as active, engaged, and connected as you’d like. From lack of opportunity to lack of motivation to lack of transportation to mobility challenges, and more, it’s tough, we get it! That’s why we created the Vivid Life program in our senior living communities. It’s composed of three parts: Vibrant Body, Vibrant Brain, and Vibrant Connections. Here’s what each entails:  

Vibrant Body We offer amenities such as a state-of-the-art fitness center, a pool, walking trails, gardening opportunities, and even a dog park to help you stay active. A sample of activities includes:  

  • Walking club – Daily walks at different outdoor locations using pedometers to measure steps. 
  • Yoga – At least once per week for gentle yoga, and once per week for mindful breathing. 
  • Fitness classes – At least two times per week using a variety of hand weights, resistance bands, and circuit-type exercises. 
  • Tai Chi – At least once per week with a live instructor. 
  • Non-traditional exercise – Dancing, gardening, etc. at least two times per week. 
  • Physical games and sports – Golf, putting, bowling, croquet, bocce, and ping pong available daily with organized events one to two times per week. 

Vibrant Brain We offer monthly calendars filled with classes, events, creative arts, and enrichment opportunities to help keep you engaged. A sample of activities includes: 

  • Visiting lecture series – Twice per month with topics such as cultural, historical, local interest, career-oriented, etc. 
  • Creative art series – At least one per week with a theme that runs 3-6 weeks, such as poetry writing, storytelling, painting, digital photography, etc. 
  • Learning series – At least three times per month with an emphasis on learning something new such as foreign language, sign language, technology, hobbies, etc. 
  • Games – At least one time per week and may include poker, bridge, Scrabble, etc. 
  • Mindfulness – A meditation class once per week and gratitude discussion group twice monthly. 
  • Church service – At least once a week through visits by local churches. 
  • Stress reduction – At least once per month class that offers deep breathing exercises, nature walks, music appreciation, spa-type treatments, etc. 

 Vibrant Connections We offer resident-led clubs, social events, outings and volunteer opportunities for any interest to help you stay connected. A sample of activities includes: 

  • Outings – At least twice per month and may include going to concerts, art shows, museum visits, theatre productions, etc. 
  • Intergenerational programming – At least once per month and focuses on building relationships between young adults/children and residents. 
  • New resident welcome party – At least once per month to formally introduce all new residents, and includes ice breakers, social games, etc. to encourage connection. 
  • Philanthropic program – At least once per month provide residents the opportunity to give back to the community, such as volunteering for a local food bank or pet shelter. 
  • Resident-led clubs – May include game clubs, professional clubs, common interests, etc. that meet at least monthly.  

What’s more, it’s all right outside your door (or transportation is provided offsite) and all in a supportive environment with home maintenance, housekeeping, and restaurant-style dining freeing your time to make it even easier to stay active, engaged, and connected. 

Learn more about Vitality Living’s Vivid Life programs. Or find a Vitality Living community near you today to schedule a tour. 

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The holidays are coming soon, but unfortunately it doesn’t seem like COVID-19 will be leaving before they arrive. This means that we may not be able to do our usual holiday traditions. And although we may not be able to physically get together, it doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the holidays as a family. It will just require a little patience and a lot of creativity. Here’s how to host a virtual holiday event for your family.

Are you caring for a loved one yourself? At Vitality, we know it isn’t easy. That’s why we created a resource to help make caregiving days go a little more smoothly. The Caregiver’s Checklist: Supporting an Aging Parent covers a wide variety of topics ranging from creating a safe home environment to how to recognize the signs a senior needs more assistance. Download it with our compliments today!

caregiver's checklist

The Recommendation

The CDC has officially weighed in on holiday celebrations, advising that since travel increases the chance of getting and spreading COVID-19, the best way to protect yourself and others is to stay home. The highest risk holiday activities are shopping in crowded stores, attending crowded parades and attending large indoor gatherings with people outside your household. Instead the CDC suggests having a small dinner with only people who live in your household and/or having virtual celebrations with friends and extended family.

Technology Tips

A successful virtual holiday event hinges on the technology and everyone’s ability to use it. These tips can help:

Choose the platform wisely – If everyone has an Apple device, FaceTime might be the easiest way to go as you won’t have to download anything extra and you can have up to 32 people on the call. Zoom is an ever-popular option too. Just do your homework in advance to make sure whichever platform you use supports the number of people you want to have and what you want to do.

Set some ground rules – Asking everyone to mute themselves when not speaking will limit background noise. It might also help to have someone serve as the moderator to keep the flow going and everyone from talking at once.

Get camera-ready – Have everyone set up their camera so it’s positioned appropriately. Depending on what you’re doing in the event, maybe you want it looking over the holiday table, with something festive in the background or simply the family gathered round. Try out some options beforehand.

Do a dry run – Not necessarily a dry run of the full event, but rather make sure everyone knows how to use the platform and that there aren’t any glitches that could distract from the fun. If you have a loved one in senior living who will need to use one of the community’s devices, make sure to talk to them to share what you’re planning (in case they need help) and to reserve the equipment.

Virtual Holiday Event Ideas

Now for the fun stuff! Some ideas are holiday specific, others could work for any family gathering.  Pick and choose what’s most important for you to do together as a family. It’s unrealistic to think you’ll be able to recreate Thanksgiving Day entirely over a Zoom call, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be different times of the day where you log on together or different activities in which you participate. Here are some things you can do:

Send invitations – This is a way to make the event feel extra special and give everyone an idea of what to expect by including an agenda. You can send them virtually to continue the theme or send paper invitations to everyone which could double as a fun keepsake.

Dress to impress – If your family usually wears holiday-themed attire, continue the tradition this year too. It will help everyone to feel more connected and you can even have fun with it. Matching Christmas PJs anyone?

Decorate cookies – This is something the kids and adults can enjoy. You could send our cookie-making kits or simply ask everyone to make sugar cookies ahead of time and have icing and sprinkles in different colors ready to decorate during the event.

Try Secret Santa – Admittedly gift giving is a bit harder virtually so if you don’t already do Secret Santa now may be the time. Simply set a limit on how much everyone can spend and then send each person the name of the family member they are to buy for a few weeks before so they have time to ship it. Then you can all take turns opening during the event.

Share a meal – Yes, this is still possible virtually! One way is to host a virtual ‘potluck’ where each family or person makes their favorite meal or dish, then they can show their table and share the recipes with the rest of the family. You could even compile a family cookbook from all the recipes. Or, simply share recipes beforehand and have everyone prepare the same thing. If family lives close you could also each cook the dishes you normally prepare, portion them out and deliver them to each other – in a contactless way of course. Lastly, you could literally eat your meal together over the call. Or take pics and share.

Play games – This is a fun way to keep everyone engaged. You could do a holiday-themed scavenger hunt of everyday household items (either send the list ahead of time or share it on the call). Play holiday-themed Bingo; there are plenty of templates on Pinterest you could print and mail. Holiday charades and Simon Says are also easy games to play virtually.

Have a contest – A little friendly family competition is always fun. Maybe you could vote on who had the best-looking dessert or table spread. Or, go all out and have an ugly sweater contest to lighten the mood!

Continue traditions – This year isn’t just about new traditions, there are still ways to continue the old ones too like sharing what you are thankful for at Thanksgiving. Singing Christmas carols together. Reading “The Night before Christmas” to the grandkids. You can also still watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade or your favorite holiday movie together virtually.

Lastly as we mentioned above, if your loved one is living in a senior living community,  talk with the staff leadership about how to include your loved one. What’s more, ask them what virtual holiday activities they’re hosting for residents in which your family can be part of too!

For more information, contact a community near you!

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