Staying Connected as Lock Downs Continue
Most nursing homes across the country continue to limit visitors due to COVID-19. Although this measure is necessary to protect vulnerable older adults, it’s very stressful if you can no longer visit your mom or dad. It’s even more challenging if your loved one has dementia and doesn’t understand why you’re not coming to visit. What can you do to ease your worries and stay connected during this time of separation?
Here are eight tips to help you navigate this challenging situation:
- Ask the staff for updates on your loved one’s condition. Are there any changes to their health? How is their mood? Is their behavior the same as always? Create a plan with the administrator for the best way to receive information, how they’ll notify you if there are changes you should be aware of, and how often you can expect to hear from them.
- Arrange for video chats via Skype or Facetime. Some nursing homes have purchased extra tablets to facilitate virtual communication between family members and residents and will be happy to arrange this for you. When speaking with your loved one, avoid topics related to the news and stick to cheerful updates of grandchildren, flowers starting to bloom, hobbies and pets. Enjoy a cup of tea or even a meal together as you chat!
- Talk on the phone or send a letter via old fashioned snail mail. A daily phone call can be very reassuring to let someone know that you haven’t forgotten them and that you’ll be in to visit as soon as possible. And who doesn’t like to receive a letter that can be enjoyed over and over?
- Does your loved one have a favorite song that you always sing with them? Do they enjoy music? Ask if the staff can spend a few minutes each day to sing a song or two with your mom and to play music for her. Music can lift spirits unlike any other medium so find ways to make the most of this superpower!
- You may be able to visit your family member through a window with each of you talking on a cell phone. If your relative has dementia, however, be cautious because they may not understand why they can’t go outside to join you and it may elevate their desire to leave the building.
- Stay in touch via social media. Many of the facilities are requesting that people post photos or videos of themselves or of pets that can be shared with the residents to cheer them up and combat loneliness and isolation.
- Take care of yourself. Use the extra time on your hands to journal, meditate, exercise, read, cook healthy meals and enjoy hobbies that you don’t normally have the time to do.
- Don’t forget to thank the front-line staff who are working overtime and doing their best to keep everyone safe.
Staying connected is possible, even in these challenging times. All it takes is a little creativity.
Questions about caring for an elderly loved one? Takacs McGinnis can help. Just give us a call at 615.824.2571.