Workers at local assisted living facilities try to keep holiday spirit up for residents during pandemic

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Families can keep spirits up by dropping off decorations, food and presents

(WKBN) – Traditions are important and even more so during the holidays. While a pandemic might not make it possible to celebrate, as usual, there are ways to spread holiday cheer with relatives.

“Historically, in a non-COVID year, we usually have large family dinners and celebrations,” said Danielle Procopio, the director of marketing, sales and communication for Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Retirement Services.

Obviously, that can’t happen this year. Celebrations can still go on, however, with the help of technology and families willing to change up their routine to help create the same sentiment felt in past holidays.

“We are encouraging our families to bring Christmas decorations to the building, and then we’re taking the decorations, and we’re putting them into the residents’ rooms and we’re decorating the rooms,” Procopio said.

They also encourage families to bring in gifts, any special foods they might like. They’re working on setting up times for families to virtually open gifts with their loved ones and doing their best to get everyone in during the week of Christmas.

She also encouraged families to continue calling their loved ones and talking with them each day.

“It’s been great to see a lot of the pieces of different pieces of memorabilia that are coming in,” Procopio said. “We have a lot of families that are bringing in the small ceramic trees that light up that a lot of our grandmothers had.”

They’ve also continued safely holding activities for residents including a candy cart, which turned into a happy hour cart in the afternoon to “make spirits bright,” and doing activities safely that residents enjoy.

“For most of our residents, if not all of our residents, we hope that they feel that we’re an extension of their family. They’re certainly an extension of ours,” Procopio said.

Activity directors have also been working on opportunities for residents to give a gift to their family, but didn’t want to spoil the surprise and say what it is. Families can call and arrange a time to pick up the gift from their loved one.

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