Visiting Loved Ones in Memory Care During COVID
COVID-19 has made it increasingly difficult for people to connect with family members in assisted living or memory care. While remaining safe and healthy is important, it’s also essential to stay in touch with our loved ones. It’s common for residents living in a memory care community to feel isolated and distant, especially when they can’t enjoy in-person, daily visits. Here are some ways to connect with older adults without breaking social distancing guidelines.
Video Chat With Family Members
If you can’t visit your aging parents or other family members in person, try to connect virtually using an online platform that supports video chat. Unlike some in-person visits, you can schedule visits whenever you and your loved ones have free time — you don’t have to follow any specified visiting hours. Here are a few popular video platforms.
FaceTime is a video chat application on iOS devices. It comes equipped with features designed to make virtual visits pleasant and entertaining, such as:
- Group calls: FaceTime supports group calls with up to 32 users. This enables people from different households to come together and talk to a loved one.
- Eye contact: When conversing online, we focus on the person’s face on our screen rather than the camera, which can make it seem like we’re not really looking at them. FaceTime offers a unique “eye contact” feature that replicates a real-life conversation.
- SharePlay: The SharePlay feature lets you share your screen and enjoy activities together — for example, you could watch a movie or listen to music.
FaceTime is available on phones, laptops and most Apple products.
If you or your loved one doesn’t have access to FaceTime, consider trying Zoom. This application, which gained popularity during the pandemic, is available to everyone and has an elaborate free version. Like FaceTime, it supports video and audio calls, group meetings and screen sharing. Zoom can be used on computers or mobile devices — however, the latter may have limited functionality.
GranPad is a tablet designed specifically for seniors. It lets older adults communicate with friends and family while providing an easy-to-use interface. Top features include:
- Large, easily visible buttons
- Charging cradle that gets rid of wires
- Strong stylus for pressing buttons
- Preloaded user contacts
- Soft, comfortable case
If your loved one isn’t comfortable using phones or laptops, the GranPad is a great way to introduce them to technology and make sure you stay in touch.
Connect on Social Media
To visit a loved one, both your schedules need to align. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done — if you have work or familial obligations, it can be difficult to set the time aside to even make a video call. On the bright side, you can still connect with loved ones using the internet.
Successful visits usually involve triggering your loved one’s emotional memory and uplifting their mood. If they have a social media presence, you can accomplish this online by trying the following techniques.
Share Old Photo Albums
Memory care research shows that photographs can stimulate happy memories and encourage positive thoughts. Whether you want to improve a loved one’s mood or get them to reminisce, photos are an effective way to connect with someone. If possible, share photos that display the following:
- Friends, family and loved ones
- Previous interests and accomplishments
- Hometowns or favorite locations
Showcasing people, places and things that are important to your loved one can help bring back valuable memories.
If you want to do something interactive with a loved one living in a memory care community, consider playing a game together. Social media platforms like Facebook offer a function where you can engage in virtual games and compete either with or against one another. Since most games don’t require players to be online at the same time, you can play according to your own schedules.
Bond Over Hobbies
Sites such as YouTube and Instagram offer a countless number of videos and tutorials that can teach both young and older adults new skills. They also provide a great way to bond with loved ones. For example, you could use videos to learn how to knit together — then, when you meet in person, you can show off your knitting projects.
If you can, try to schedule your online interactions at a regular time. Memory care specialists agree that a predictable routine can help stimulate the memory.
Nowadays, when we can’t connect with someone in person, most of us turn to technology. However, not everyone has access to or knowledge of modern devices. If your loved one isn’t tech-savvy, you can still keep in touch through old-fashioned letters. There are several benefits to letter writing, such as the following:
- It keeps minds active: Writing letters encourages older adults to exercise both their minds and their motor skills.
- It provides a memento: Unlike video calls, letters can be preserved and read repeatedly.
- It can be done anywhere: Connecting online requires easy access to technology. Writing a letter, however, can be done at any time or place.
Letters also give loved ones something to look forward to. Just knowing your letter is arriving can brighten spirits and encourage excitement.
Choose the Right Memory Care Community
When it comes to keeping memory care residents happy, there are few things more effective than staying in touch with loved ones. It’s important that the memory care or assisted living facility does everything possible to help residents communicate with family and friends back home.
At Cedar Creek, our team is dedicated to creating positive, impactful experiences that help improve the physical and mental health of our residents. Each of our homes is equipped with iPads and staff to help facilitate virtual visits. Whether a senior needs help navigating social media or delivering a letter, you can trust us to offer support. Learn more about our memory care home by calling us at (301) 384-4017 today!