How to Stay Connected to Loved Ones in Nursing Homes During a Pandemic

 In Health, Long-Term Care


Family caregivers have now faced weeks or even months of physical separation from their loved ones in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in order to protect them from Coronavirus. The restrictions on in-person visitation in long-term care facilities during the pandemic have made it challenging for family caregivers to stay close and present in the lives of their loved ones. The lack of family contact and attention can create feelings of isolation and anxiety for a resident, and additional stress for already worried families and friends, who are used to visiting in person.

While you may be unable to visit your loved one in-person, it is possible to brighten their day and try to ease feelings of isolation. Here are some ideas for staying emotionally connected to loved ones while visitor restrictions are in place:

  • Plan a virtual visit. There are several apps that will allow you to meet with your loved one virtually, including FaceTime, Zoom, and Skype. Most facilities are more than willing to assist your loved one in dialing in to a call. Some facilities even have iPads for easier viewing.
  • Send snail mail. Cards and letters are an easy way to tell someone you are thinking of them. Write an update about routine family activities. Have your children draw a picture. Include a photo showing your quarantine activities. Receiving updates will be reassuring to your loved one that you are okay during this health crisis and will provide your loved one with a genuine connection to you.
  • Create a photo book. Create a photo book with photos of what you, family, and friends have been up to. Include captions identifying family members and friends, with a small description. It can be as simple as a few pages printed from your home printer and stapled together, a poster board assortment, or a professionally bound book from Shutterfly or another online printing company. Most facilities will accept envelopes or packages at the front desk and will have staff members deliver to your loved one’s room, or they can always be sent in the mail.
  • Have a window visit. Many facilities will schedule a specific time for your family to “meet” your loved one through a window on the ground floor. You will be on the outside, and your loved one will be safely on the inside. You can chat, share smiles and laughs, and a touch through the glass. You can make special occasions, like a birthday or holiday, extra special with handmade signs.
  • Create a phone chain. Create a schedule of different family members and friends to each call your loved one on a specific day. This is a great way to connect others also feeling isolated, especially seniors and those living alone, with your loved one. Plus, a regular daily phone call gives your loved one something to look forward to.
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