Date: May 24, 2021

Author: Kathleen Boziwick

Last year at this time, many of us were foregoing any family reunions. The global pandemic was active in almost all communities and in order to protect our family and loved ones, we did not gather together because it wasn’t safe.

This year brings a whole different feel to it as many people are now fully vaccinated against Covid-19, and are able to resume some of activities that we have all enjoyed in the past. It wasn’t until they were taken away that we began to realize how much we missed them.

One activity that many people say they missed the most was gathering with family. As National Family Reunion Month comes upon us (it occurs between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day each year), you and your family might be planning a family reunion. Whether a family reunion used to mean a gathering of five generations from 10 states or just a larger gathering of immediate family, if you have an aging parent and you’re planning a reunion this spring or summer, here are some suggestions to keep it safe for your senior parent.

  • Keep it outside. By the end of May, most states have weather that’s amenable to outside events. To prevent the spread of Covid-19 or other germs while you gather, keep your event mostly outside so that people can gather for longer periods of time safely. If you’re having it at your parent’s home, enlist the help of your senior care provider beforehand to set up tables and chairs that still provide plenty of room to guests. Despite many people being fully vaccinated, you should still avoid cramming too many people around a table or bonfire.
  • Keep it small(ish). It’s a family reunion, so small might be a relative term. Many areas are still asking people who gather to try to keep it to three households or less. With that in mind, this year may still not be the time to ask out-of-state family to travel for the family reunion.
  • Keep it short. The longer we spend with people directly, the greater the chance is of contracting a germ or virus they may be carrying. Even if your actual event isn’t too long, limit the interaction time your senior parent has with people she hasn’t seen in the past year.
  • Keep your distance. Still maintaining a social distance of six feet can help keep your parent safe. When setting up tables, put chairs in every other spot so that people are not knocking elbows at the table when they eat. Since most children are not vaccinated, remind parents to have their little ones not hug and squeeze Grandma, even if Grandma is fully vaccinated.
  • Keep things sanitized. Help everyone feel safer by having plenty of hand sanitizer ready for them.
  • Keep those rules enforced. It’s a good idea to let everyone know the health and safety rules you want to have in place for this gathering. Perhaps it’s requiring masks for those who are not vaccinated, or maybe it’s asking anyone who feels at all ill to stay home. It could be limiting guests to only those on the guest lists and not allowing extra friends or even caregivers like the senior care provider to attend for this event.

So long as families maintain proper health and safety guidelines for larger gatherings such as family reunions, we trust that next year, we’ll even be able to have bigger and better gatherings!

Date: May 24, 2021