There’s no getting around it. COVID-19 has affected all of us, but none more than those living in assisted living communities.
Many of these communities are on strict lockdown orders due to the fact that their residents are in one of the high-risk categories identified by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and the WHO (World Health Organization).
Many families have struggled to communicate with their loved ones who may be struggling with feelings of loneliness and isolation as the global pandemic ensues.
So, how can you make sure your family member or friend feels loved and connected during social distancing?
Teach and Encourage Technology Use
If your senior loved one has put off learning how to use technology, there’s no time like the present. If your budget allows, consider buying them a tablet and teaching them how to download books, movies, games, and more on it. And, of course, set up a video chatting application like FaceTime to help them feel connected to you.
Whether or not they choose to participate in video chats, make sure you are calling them regularly to talk.
Ask about their day. Make a list of topics to discuss so you can keep the conversation going. Ask them questions you want to know about their life, their careers, their family, etc.
You should also be sure to fill them in on things happening in your life to make them feel connected to you and your family.
Especially when video chatting, don’t be afraid to have idle time. Just knowing they’re connected can be comforting without the need to necessarily fill the time with chatter.
Find a game that can be played over video and host family game nights and include your loved one.
Send Cards and Letters
Everyone appreciates getting a handwritten letter or card. This is something physical that they can hold, read and re-read if they’re feeling especially lonely.
If you have younger children, have them color pictures and write a note. Get the whole family involved in this process for a more meaningful experience for your loved one.
Keep It Light
Chances are, your loved one is already concerned about the global pandemic. Keep your conversations positive and light. Don’t discuss scary statistics, news, etc.
Even if you feel scared yourself, keep your tone encouraging and initiate conversations that distract from what is going on in the world.
If they turn the conversation to the pandemic themselves, be encouraging, remind them how resilient they are and share positive stories. Don’t argue and don’t feed their fear.
It’s important for everyone to stay positive for their mental health during this time… especially seniors living in isolated communities. Remind that this will pass and things will get back to normal and turn the conversation to happier topics.
We’re all in this together! Let’s stay safe and support our loved ones in any way we can while we ride out this pandemic.