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Planning for the Holidays is More than a Menu

 The latest news reports suggest only about 10 percent of American Adults have received their seasonal booster for COVID.  The holiday season is upon us, and that translates into a lot less masking, bigger family gatherings with visits to our family elders, airline travel and indoor events where viruses thrive.  It’s our third Halloween and Thanksgiving with COVID.  But with the COVID virus having evolved as viruses do – rapidly – this may be a bit of vax fatigue that we don’t want to see. Advance planning around both COVID and the flu should be a major part of our planning if we want anything close to “normal” Fall holidays.

As you make plans and reach out to family and friends for your social gatherings, here is a checklist of what to do and what to NOT do:

  1. Don’t ignore your or others’ symptoms. The COVID profile has changed a bit and Sensory loss in smell and taste are going to be less likely. There’s a bit of a laundry list of the other warning symptoms: are you tired, do you have headaches, aching muscles, a sore throat, coughing or fever?
  2. Do keep a focus on your highest risk encounters which most often will be the family members over 60 years of age, the youngest who attend school where they’re exposed to nearly everyone else their age or anyone with an immune condition that reduces their body’s ability to protect them from viral infections.
  3. Talk to people who will be joining you and yours over the holidays and convey or send them a RVSVP…that is a “respondez vax s’il vous plait. Don’t be shy and awkward.  You’ll find most people respond well to others who are looking out for their well-being.  If not, well…
  4. Get shot again. Timing should be on this run-up to Halloween so that your body is fully ready with the antibodies by Thanksgiving.  Talk to your health care provider about recommendations, but the new bivalent booster covers most of our vulnerabilities to the new COVID strains…yes, plural.  Most pharmacies have stocks of the booster and can schedule an appointment on line.  And be prepared for COVID to continue to evolve.
  5. Rinse.  Repeat.  Especially if you’re going to share a table with your Grands, get a test if you have any signs or symptoms.  There is some debate about which test and timing, so talk to your provider.  It mostly boils down to Rapid Tests or PCR…fast with Rapid, but more sensitive with PCR.
  6. Other preventives include our longstanding go-to: Mask Up. Shop for any mask within the “95” category…again, ask your provider.  The other travelers on your plane don’t have to be masked for you to be protected by your mask.  Be conscious of ventilation with group settings, and consider your own “mini-quarantine” before a gathering…a week or so with minimal to no risky social interactions.

And pause and consider that this is not going to be always how you prepare for the Fall holidays, but for right now it is.  Maybe take up meditation also to give you more perseverance for this season?  Happy Holidays!

Charlotte Bishop is an Aging Life Care Advisor, Geriatric Care Manager and founder of, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago.  She also is the co-author of How Do I Know You? A Caregiver’s Lifesaver for Dealing with Dementia.


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