These are challenging and scary times for seniors and their families. Statistics show that COVID-19 is taking a heavy toll on the elderly. Meanwhile, long-term care facilities have become a kind of ground zero for COVID-19 infection, and nursing homes must take dramatic action to keep residents safe. Protecting seniors, whether they’re at home or in a long-term care facility, is the most important thing we can do. But isolation can also take a toll on seniors’ well-being. How can adult children and family members support their loved ones during this public health crisis? As a family member, one of the most important things you can do is to help your parents know they’re loved. Help them stay connected during the crisis, even though in-person visits may not be possible. Helping mom or dad adapt and learn to use technology can play a significant role.
Supporting Parents in Their Homes During COVID-19
What we see is that seniors may not understand how social distancing works or why it’s needed. If mom and dad are in their own home during the COVID-19 crisis, encouraging them to stay home is the best way to support them. You may also need to help them develop a new relationship with technology. Here are some tips for helping aging parents at home:
- Underscore the importance of staying home and avoiding crowds.
- Drop off groceries or help them set up curbside pick-up so they can avoid busy supermarkets.
- Check-in with your loved one regularly and build relationships with their neighbors in case of emergencies.
- Help mom and dad rethink how they socialize, with a focus on virtual meet-ups instead of in-person get-togethers.
- Help them get the hang of technology. Encourage them to connect with friends and family via the internet.
- Many non-urgent doctor’s appointments can also take place online.
Supporting Parents In Long-Term Care During COVID
Long-term care facilities around the country are closing to visitors. It’s challenging for families, but it’s the best way to keep residents safe. The no-visitors rule is in line with the Centers for Disease Control guidelines and an essential step in preventing an outbreak. Closing to visitors allows staff to focus on meeting residents’ nutritional and medical needs. At Evergreen, we also offer socialization opportunities while following social distancing guidelines. While being separated from loved ones can be painful during uncertain times, it’s an essential step in protecting their health. Here are some ways to support mom or dad in long-term care:
- Send letters and photos to your loved ones.
- Encourage your children to reach out to grandparents. Handmade cards and letters are an excellent project for kids at home during the pandemic and are a favorite with grandparents. Kids can even make cards for other residents without immediate family.
- Use technology to connect with your loved one. Connect via Skype or FaceTime or simply call on the phone.
- If appropriate, purchase a tablet or smartphone for your loved one and communicate with the facility about helping them learn to use it.
- Help them tap into free concerts, performances, and classes online.
- Let them know about games, apps or other platforms they can easily use for entertainment.
- When you talk with your loved one, focus on the positive and try to put your worries on the back burner.
- Communicate virtually with staff about your parent’s well-being and daily routine. Communication helps you know that your loved one is getting the care they need during challenging times.
COVID-19 Support at Evergreen Health & Rehab
Like long-term care facilities around the country, Evergreen Health & Rehab is not allowing visitors at this time. We know this is challenging for families and residents, and we appreciate the understanding of loved ones during this public health crisis. Here are some of the initiatives we’re taking to encourage connection and communication during this challenging time:
- Texts and letters to update families.
- Video conferencing for families and loved ones.
- Information for residents about what is happening and why.
- Individual attention and emotional support from staff.
We invite family members to contact us with any questions or concerns as we work day and night to keep your loved ones healthy and safe.