6 WAYS TO STAY CONNECTED DURING THE COVID-19 LOCKDOWN
Stay connected with seniors when visitors aren’t allowed
To slow the spread of the coronavirus among seniors, nursing homes and assisted living communities are following recommendations and restricting all visitors, volunteers, and nonessential personnel, with a few exceptions, such as end-of-life situations.
All group activities and communal dining are cancelled. Active screening of residents and health care personnel for fever and respiratory symptoms is being implemented.
Because so many people are living in a shared environment and because seniors are at high risk of developing severe illness or dying from COVID-19, these measures are critical for minimizing exposure to the virus and reducing the chance of getting sick.
But seniors are feeling isolated, anxious, and fearful during this time.
And seniors with dementia are especially likely to be scared, agitated, or confused because they can’t understand or remember what’s causing these major lifestyle changes.
Here are 6 practical tips to help you stay as connected as possible with your older family members while visitors aren’t allowed in care communities.
What’s realistic right now
In general, just do the best that you can. Use whatever means of communication that is currently available until a better option becomes available.
To monitor your family member’s health and well-being, check-in with the facility regularly to find out how they’re doing. Ask if they’re continuing to implement their care plan or if there have been any modifications.
Be mindful that staff will be overwhelmed with calls from family and with implementing measures to keep seniors safe. They’re doing the best they can, so be kind and patient and express your gratitude for their hard work on the front lines.
6 practical ways to stay connected with seniors when visits are restricted
1. Establish a regular contact schedule
To reassure your family member that you’ll always be there for them, consider setting up a schedule for when you’ll contact them and stick to it religiously.
Knowing when to expect a call from you can help them feel more secure and connected during an uncertain time. This is especially important if they aren’t able to initiate calls on their own.
2. Talk on the telephone
With texting and video calls, sometimes we forget that a good old-fashioned phone call is a wonderful way to stay connected.
The best part is that your older adult already knows how to use their phone and there’s no set up needed.
3. Video calls on a computer
If they are able to use a computer, consider doing a video call with them. There’s extra comfort and reassurance in seeing someone’s face.
You’ll also be able to better assess their level of health and well-being. And they’ll feel less isolated because they’ll be able to see the face of someone they trust.
There are many video calling options available. Here are a few popular services.
Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts and Skype offers free options and we find that they all have different calling options available to best suit your need.
4. Video calls on a mobile phone
If your older family member uses a smartphone regularly, they may already have video calling set up, like FaceTime on Apple iPhones.
5. Drop off letters or care packages
If your older family member isn’t able to use a telephone, smartphone, or computer, ask their care community if you can drop off letters or care packages for them.
If this is allowed, put together a bag of basic supplies, favourite snacks, or comfort items and drop it off for them.
And to remind them that they’re loved and missed, you could include special photos or a handwritten letter.
If it’s feasible, you could even ask family and friends to send letters to you via email so you can print them out (in large font) and add them to your older adult’s care package.
It is important to pre-clean care packages for safety
With older adults at high risk for serious complications from COVID-19, it’s better to be safe than sorry. So if you choose to send a care package, take a few precautions to reduce the chance that you’ll be delivering germs along with it.
6. Encourage family and friends to send letters and cards
To brighten their day, ask family and friends to send letters, cards, and photos to your family members.
Everyone loves to get mail, especially when we’re feeling disconnected and isolated.
They’ll even be able to keep these items displayed in their room as constant reminders that they’re loved and missed.