Amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the national closing of long term care facilities to outside visitors, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America has some tips on how families can still stay connected with a loved one in a care setting.
■ Speak to people in the care setting. Keep in touch with the care setting’s staff to get regular updates on loved ones, and make sure they are safe.
■ Utilize technology to stay connected. Many care settings are helping families stay connected through video chat, such as FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom. Ask staff in the care setting if they offer this type of service. Phone calls, emails, and letters are also good ways to keep in touch and stay connected.
■ Have a dialogue through photographs. Some care settings are working with families to regularly send pictures of their residents to their loved ones, and also encouraging families to send photos back for the residents to see. In some cases, they’ll encourage “themed” photos (for example, wearing a funny hat) to keep things fun and engaging.
■ Send care packages. Familiarity often helps reduce stress and improve mood, so sending favorite snacks, trinkets, lotions, or activities to the person can be helpful. Check with the care setting before sending to see if there are any items they do not allow for health reasons.
■ Don’t panic. According to officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moving an older adult from a long term care center and exposing them to more people and places is risky and could have long-lasting impacts.