We are all aware of how COVID has changed everything, but nowhere does it hit home more than in the nursing homes and senior care facilities here and across the U.S. We have all been told to socially distance ourselves from others to avoid this disease. Many are finding ways to do this while staying home with hobbies, house and yard work that always used to get past us and of course the constant need to entertain and watch the kids who are no longer in school. People are working from home and adapting. Truth be told, everybody got sent home, but the changes forced us all into different routines. Unfortunately, the change is not as easy to contend with for seniors. The increased loneliness and isolation from families can have a devastating effect on our seniors. Please include you seniors in your new daily routine. Here are some ideas. . .
SOCIAL MEDIA - FACEBOOK
If you and members of your family engage in social media, it is an obvious way to connect. However, it is NOT obvious, nor even easy for our seniors. Facebook is far from intuitive, and worse, newsfeeds are flooded with non-interesting, unrelated topics, political diatribes, and ads. If your family seniors are inclined to use Facebook, make sure you include them in posts and reach out to them.
BETTER YET – SET UP A FACEBOOK GROUP PAGE FOR YOUR FAMILY: It might be worth investing the time to setup a Facebook Group page for your family. This is free and easy to do for anyone in your family who is on Facebook for any amount of time. Believe me, they are there. Assign someone the task of setting up a Family Facebook group and then invite your local network of friends and family to join the group. You might have to help senior family members, but it is worth the effort. On the Family Group pages, posts are limited to only those who are in the group. Ads get filtered and everyone gets to see everyone’s post.
When looking for remote ways to stay in touch, video is the obvious choice, but it can involve both and investment in time and money. Consider the devices already available and start with those. Cell phones, for example, offer a lot of opportunities for connecting using video chat. Even though we are on the subject of video, don’t forget to just pick up the phone and call. Make sure that a frequent call to your senior family members is part of your routine.
Zoom is the new standard of communication for video calls, but it is not for everyone and there is a learning curve even for those that are PC savvy. FB Messenger (Facebook) is handy too if everyone in your family is using Facebook. Bear in mind that you may need to teach your seniors how to use this. What might be intuitive to you can be very frustrating for someone not familiar with online applications. There are also excellent video calling devices that you set up to simplify the video chat capability. Consider Portal by Facebook or Amazon Video devices (Echo Show), but here, there is an investment for sure. Still, they work amazingly well. Set these up ahead of time so that when you hand the device off to your seniors, make sure it just works! Once setup, it is as easy as saying “Call Mom” and Mom’s echo device will alert her of an incoming video call. We also like an app called Marco Polo. Marco Polo lets you send a video message. The person receiving the video message sends one back in response. It works across most mobile devices.
TRADITIONAL COMMUNICATION – Non-tech is High Touch
While we are all caught up in the tech world, it can sometimes mean more if you go the traditional route. A heartfelt note or just a letter with some snapshots of recent family activity can go a long way toward relieving some of the isolation and loneliness. We do not seem to do this often enough, yet the treasures we keep in our nightstand are just those same things that capture moments in time. It is kind of difficult to tuck a PC into your nightstand to save a couple of pictures that you treasure! Take the time to write in a card, send some photos and say: “I Love You”. It will have a much more lasting effect that the Instagram photos that instantly get buried with the rest of the day’s posts and activities. Remember, non-tech is high touch.
If you have any ideas for ways we can help, please reach out.