Physical distancing is part of our “new normal” since it has been a vital preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. But with strengthened social distancing should come more robust emotional connectivity. Now more than ever, these trying times call for our need to connect with each other.
Visiting seniors during COVID is essential to prevent them from drifting into isolation and loneliness. While there are restrictions in visitations around senior living communities, it is not a hindrance to stay close at heart with your senior loved one. Who says visiting is limited to physical proximity? Just as we have developed different adaptive measures, here are a few fun ways to “visit” seniors in senior living communities:
Currently, the CDC guidelines strictly restrict visitors from entering senior living facilities unless they are essential to a resident’s well-being. A health care facilitator can identify an essential visitor as someone who provides mental and physical care, such as assistance to those with disabilities. But of course, there’s a catch. These allowed visitations are done through windows to mitigate possible contamination. Most facilities schedule them on the ground floor.
It may sound unsatisfying, but these window visits offer more fun than you think! You get to see your loved one up close, exchange smiles and laughter, talk through phone, and touch through the glass. Compared to video calls, this proximity offers higher value. You could also bring signs or banners to show them on special occasions such as birthdays and holidays. Bring them a special sight. Dress up a little extra, bring a pet, or a present you want to show them in person. Your extra effort could lift their spirits so much. The possibilities are limitless. At least with the pandemic, we’ve grown incredibly adaptive and creative. These window visits are proof.
Who hasn’t done a single video call since COVID-19? It is no doubt that human connectivity nowadays has relied vastly on technology. Around senior living facilities, communal dining and group activities are canceled. This makes seniors more prone to isolation and loneliness. Thankfully, technology bridges the gap formed by social distancing—communication tools and smartphone apps like Zoom, Skype, and FaceTime all ensure greater connectivity. Prioritize scheduling a virtual visit with your senior loved ones. Make it as fun and creative as possible. Step up your usual video calls to virtual dinners or coffee dates. Do them along with your routine activities like cooking, watching a movie, or strolling in your garden. Make virtual family meetings too where you can gather grandchildren and relatives to say hi to them. If they are hesitant to use technology, offer them your encouragement and patience.
During these virtual visits, also keep in mind to check on their health. Pay attention to any changes in the conversation or any drastic physical changes. For instance, loss of interest or energy to talk may be a sign of an emotional problem. Physical changes such as weight loss or sudden weight gain, jaundice, and skin rashes may also mean an underlying health condition. Remind them to stick with their medications and doctor appointments. Their health is more crucial during these times, so be wary of risks.
Join Them in Virtual Entertainment
Elevate the fun in visiting seniors by taking them somewhere else—virtually. Take them on museum tours, watch a theater play, watch a concert, stream a movie, or play online games together! The internet not only lets us connect with our loved ones but also allows us to experience the world even now that we’re confined in our homes. These virtual forms of entertainment just take a little bit of patience to get seniors fully engaged, given that not all of them are tech-savvy.
If you miss going to the movies, Netflix Party allows you to watch movies with others online. Are you a music lover? Billboard has a list of online musical shows to stream each month. Do you like to travel and explore places? Google Arts & Culture’s breath-taking reality viewer lets you travel places homebound. From the street art scene in Rome to the Christ the Redeemer in Brazil, historical places are navigated through your fingertips. Do you fancy art? Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Guggenheim in New York City, and over 2500 museums worldwide are keeping their doors open for a virtual tour! If you’re into performance arts, digital stages such as New York’s Broadway and London’s West End have been broadcasting their past performances too. On the other hand, if you and your senior loved one like to bond by playing games, many websites and apps like Arkadium.com, AARP, and Words with Friends feature senior-friendly multiplayer games. More than the fun, these games can improve mood, visual acuity, and cognition.
Send A Handwritten Letter
Handwritten letters never get old. Perhaps, it’s time to fully revive them! Good old scripts on stationaries are a timeless way of expressing your love towards someone. Receiving them now is even more touching, given that everything else is done digitally. Take your time to write one for your senior loved ones. That simple gesture alone could brighten up their day. Since seniors tend to be more sentimental, they’ll surely treasure them and may even reminisce about them later. Your letters don’t have to be fancy. Just be sincere, and make your company felt through your genuine words. Tell them of your daily routines, of your life during this crisis, and of course, wish them well too. If you want to be more creative, Pinterest has a lot of fun ways to design beautiful handwritten letters.
Send Them Gifts
Lastly, the good old fashioned way of sending presents is another excellent method. Seniors are very appreciative. It will only take your effort to impress them. Send them flowers. Sunflowers, tulips, and daisies: these are the most cheerful flowers that’ll brighten your senior loved one’s day. Gifts from their grandchildren count so much too! Even the professional stick man portraits in Crayola’s from children will surely warm up their hearts. If you want to do a little extra, you can make a scrapbook, handcrafts, or even bake them pastries. Anything to compensate for lack of physical bonds could help so much nowadays.
There are a lot of adaptive ways to still have fun despite the stressing situations brought by the on-going pandemic. Despite whatever keeps you busy, take time to visit your senior loved ones in senior living communities. The fun ways mentioned above are often just a recipe of strong wi-fi connection, time, patience, and effort. Take note of this, and you’re ready to make your next visit a happier experience for both you and your senior loved one.