Like many others who can’t or won’t take a chance this year, my husband and I will be spending Thanksgiving by ourselves, without extended family. I think it’s a first for us.

There’s nowhere else I’d rather be Nov. 26 than with my siblings and their families. We recently lost our father, and it would be so comforting to gather to reminisce and catch up on the latest news in person.

If it weren’t for the pandemic, that is. None of us wants a potential side of COVID with our turkey.

So I’ll make my late mother’s dressing recipe, a family favorite, and the rest of the meal, for two instead of 20, and at some point during the day, I hope to join my siblings and their families for a video chat.

Senior living trade associations recommend that people proceed cautiously, too, to prevent community spread, a key factor in COVID-19 making its way into senior living communities, residents and workers.

“We understand everyone wants to see their family and friends during the holidays, but we really need to consider our parents and grandparents who are living in our nation’s long-term care facilities,” David Gifford, M.D., MPH, chief medical officer and senior vice president of quality and regulatory affairs for the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living, said in a message for the public. “Even though you may feel fine, more than half of people who have COVID-19 are asymptomatic, and the people you encounter at the Thanksgiving table or out at the grocery store may work in a nursing home or assisted living community. Wearing a mask and practicing physical distancing not only protects you, but it is a sign of respect for our elders and our healthcare heroes who care for them.”

Both AHCA/NCAL and LeadingAge are sharing guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention related to hosting or attending holiday gatherings. Among the advice if you plan to join others:

  • Check the COVID-19 infection rates in areas where attendees live on state, local, territorial or tribal health department websites.
  • Limit the number of attendees as much as possible to allow people from different households to remain at least six feet apart at all times. 
  • Host outdoor rather than indoor gatherings as much as possible.
  • Avoid holding gatherings in crowded, poorly ventilated spaces with people who are not in your household.
  • Require guests to wear masks.
  • Encourage attendees to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds each time.
  • Provide guests information about any COVID-19 safety guidelines and steps that will be in place at the gathering to prevent the spread of the virus. 
  • Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and any shared items between use, when feasible.

See additional advice and information about state-specific requirements on LeadingAge’s website.

This information rings true for any gathering until the pandemic ends, of course. So I’ll do what I can this year to avoid catching COVID and to prevent its spread, with thoughts of next year’s holidays dancing in my head.