COVID-19 is always a threat to seniors and your older family members. But for elder family members who live in long-term care facilities, it can be even more difficult. "Seniors look forward to visits from their family members," says Scott Schabel, MD, Medical Director of Geriatrics at Rochester Regional Health. "In-person visits help our elder population create lasting memories and stay connected to their families. Frequent visits from loved ones really cheer them up."
So, how do you and your family remain in contact with your older loved ones without putting them at risk of infecting COVID-19? Dr. Schabel shares a few ideas.
Using a video calling platform to talk to your loved ones is a personal way to keep in touch. If they don’t already have a device to chat on, sending them one may be a nice surprise.
“All Rochester Regional Health nursing homes have free public WiFi,” said Dr. Schabel. “Most cell phones, even old versions, can use video calling services without a cell phone plan, as well as all tablets. If you send your loved one a device, be sure to configure and test it first.”
Some people living in long-term care may not have the ability to operate such devices, but Dr. Schabel said “Rochester Regional Health is working on videoconferencing options for our seniors.”
Have your kids plan and perform a video and send a link to the video to your loved one. This is another way to engage members of nursing homes in a fun and memorable way.
Ordering a gift online or mailing one personally is a nice way to share a connection. If you usually bring something when you visit, try mailing it instead.
Here are some gift ideas:
It may seem old-fashioned, but writing a letter is a touching way to communicate with the elderly. They will be surprised by a physical copy of a personal, hand-written letter from someone they love.
During a time when visiting restrictions and isolation may be getting them down, this is a great way to brighten their day.
Add a printed photo with the letter for another personal touch so they can keep your picture by their side.
Reminder: Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, before writing a letter, card, or sending gifts.
A nice way to engage the community is to write extra cards and send them to a nursing home for a group of residents. Not everyone will receive letters and cards during this difficult time, so writing to more people will help raise the spirits of everyone in the home.
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