During the pandemic many nursing homes shut down, leaving older family members alone without their family visiting. This caused an increase in loneliness for our elderly loved ones. During this time, most nursing homes are still reluctant to let visitors come indoors, but the family may be able to do ‘window visits’.
Window visits are when family members arrive at the nursing home and stand outside so that their older family members can see them and sort of communicating, as much as one can, through closed windows. While this isn’t the most ideal scenario, it does lend a little comfort to families during these times.
Since many of you have older family members in nursing homes, and cannot physically visit them, we wanted to share some tips to help you stay connected with older family members right now.
Use a Messaging App
We live in a very advanced world with technology all around us. While your older family members may not know how to use a tablet or smartphone, the workers at the nursing home may be able to help with this. Get your older family member a tablet or smartphone device that’s been disinfected and ask the nursing home to help schedule weekly virtual video calls between your older family member and you.
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Download on Apple App Store (Apple)
Your older family member comes from a time when writing letters was the thing to do! Waiting to get a letter in the mail from a friend or beloved family member was a highlight of their life in their younger years. Sit down with your kids and write some letters, create greeting cards or some other fun projects and mail these items to your older family member.
Talk on the Phone
You could talk on the phone with your older family member during your ‘window visit’ as a means to bring a voice to the conversation. We’re not sure if a nursing home would be able to accommodate this idea, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. This will help your older family member feel less lonely as they’ll be able to see and hear you during your window visitations.
Ask About Visits
Some nursing homes will allow one family member to visit at a time, so as long as they have quarantined for 14 days and tested negative for the virus. This is a fabulous idea to consider asking your older family member’s nursing home. If you’re able to do in-person visits wearing a mask, you might consider staying home and quarantining yourself so that your older family member can have companionship every so often during this current time.
Trying to stay connected to older family members that are in nursing homes or living on their own can be quite a difficult task during our current times. These ideas we featured above will help you make the best of this situation so that your older family members can feel connected and have something to look forward to during their lonely weeks in the nursing home.
The best way to find out if you can adjust your visits to accommodate any of our tips is to call the nursing home and discuss options, don’t just assume that your older family member must stay alone forever during our current times. There may be a way to work around the recommendations in a way that’s safe for everyone involved.