COVID-19 has created a highly necessary safety protocol called social distancing. We all know it’s the best thing to do to slow down and prevent the spread of this virus, especially for at-risk populations such as those with underlying conditions or the elderly. However, it’s difficult for many to be separated physically from their loved ones; especially during a time of the year when many people get together for the spring season.
For residents in nursing homes, it can be very isolating to not see their loved ones, especially if it’s part of their routine. It becomes even worse if there is a resident with anxiety or depressive disorders. Thankfully, there are many ways to still stay connected to your loved one while social distancing to keep each other safe.
1. Video Chats
Whether you’re a fan of Skype, FaceTime, or some other video chat service, this is an excellent way to stay in touch with your loved ones. Phone calls are of course great, but there’s something about being able to see the facial expressions of the person you’re talking to that makes it seem more like they’re with you. Even if a resident doesn’t have their own smart device to do video chats, our communities have smart devices that are sanitized between uses that residents can use to virtually visit with their loved ones.
2. Sending Special Packages or Notes
Of course, whatever you send to a resident in a nursing home will need to be contained and sanitized for a few days first, but sending Dad a new sweater or your wife a bouquet of flowers and a sweet note are great ways to let them know you’re thinking about them.
3. Social Media
If a resident has a way to use social media, this is another great way for them to stay connected with all their friends and family. Even before the pandemic, social media was actually a great way for those in nursing homes to still feel active in their friend groups and see updates about their families. If a resident doesn’t have social media, many communities (such as Touchstone’s) have their own social media pages and can share photos and videos of the residents who have given consent. This allows you to see that your loved one is doing well.
4. Phone Calls
A simple phone call can often be the best way to stay in touch with someone while social distancing. This is an especially great method to use since most people, even residents in nursing homes, have their own phone that they don’t have to worry about others using and potentially contaminating.
5. Virtual Activities and Experiences
This goes back to using a video chat feature, but besides using it just to talk to your loved one, you could also do an activity with them! For example, you could send your loved one a painting kit in the mail and then set up a time for you both to paint together over a video chat. You could even do something simpler by eating dinner at the same time during a video chat. Another fun activity to do together that doesn’t require video chat is to build a playlist together. You could use Spotify’s collaborative feature and create a playlist together of your favorite songs, or songs that remind you of each other.
There are other creative ways to stay in touch with your loved one while social distancing, such as showing up to have a conversation with them through their room window, having a sign with a special message posted outside their window, and more. A bright spot in this pandemic is that despite having to social distance, people are finding countless ways to show their loved ones they care about them, they miss them, and they love them. We may have to be separated physically, but we do not have to be separated socially.