COVID-19 has presented challenges for everyone, and most people feel the strain of reduced social contact and limited gatherings. But for the elderly, social isolation isn’t merely an inconvenience. It can be devastating to their mental health and overall well-being. At the same time, however, seniors are among those at highest risk for life-threatening complications if they contract the virus.
That places seniors and their families in a difficult position. Family members who normally plan regular visits may be visiting less frequently or not at all as they seek to keep elderly loved ones safe. In addition, seniors who normally lead active social lives that include book clubs, religious services, or community events may not be venturing out.
Those are wise precautions to take in light of COVID-19, but they may also adversely affect your loved one by contributing to intense loneliness and even depression. The good news is that you can still stay connected with your elderly family member even if you can’t visit in person.
Here are 7 creative ways to help your senior loved one feel loved and cared for from afar.
- Schedule regular phone calls.
You may already be used to checking in with your loved one once a week or so. If that’s the case, consider increasing the frequency of those calls now that your mom or dad has fewer social contacts during the week. If phone calls aren’t already a normal part of your routine, there’s no better time to start. Put it in your calendar to make it a scheduled activity.
- Teach them how to use technology to stay in touch.
Technology is a wonderful gift for staying connected with loved ones when you can’t be together physically. The problem is that many older folks feel intimidated by technology. You can help by purchasing a tablet or smartphone (tablets are great because they have larger screens to interact with and are intuitive). Take some time to walk your family members through how to make and answer a video call, how to adjust volume and zoom in on the screen, and even how to setup and operate a Facebook account.
- Send care packages by mail.
Put together a box of your loved one’s favorite snacks and surprises and send it to them through the mail. Take the opportunity to get creative and come up with some things he or she will really love. For example, you could put together a box of crossword puzzle books and pencils, a themed box with materials for a favorite hobby, or a movie night box with a DVD, popcorn or candy, and a warm blanket.
- Schedule a Door Dash meal.
Send your family member his or her favorite meal, and then call or Facetime so you can “eat dinner” together. If you have siblings or other family members, consider asking a different person to do this each week so your loved one can stay connected with everyone on a regular basis.
- Compile video messages from family and friends.
Celebrate special occasions by asking friends and family to create a video message for your mom or dad. Compile them and watch the video together via FaceTime. If there is no special occasion on the horizon, that’s okay! This is also a great way to help your loved one reconnect with people they care about at any time of the year.
- Schedule FaceTime with the grandkids.
Grandkids have a special place in their grandparents’ hearts. COVID-19 has been hard on many seniors because they have not been able to spend time with their favorite youngsters. Talk to your siblings about putting together a FaceTime call that includes all the grandkids so your senior loved one can see how they are doing. You can also do individual calls so grandkids and grandparents can read books, tell stories, and sing songs together.
- Play a game together remotely.
If your family member loves board games or card games, set up a video call and play together remotely! You will each need a set of cards or a game set, and you’ll need to describe what you are doing in each move so the other person can replicate the game progress on their own side of the screen.
If you are concerned about your loved one’s physical health during COVID-19, you may want to consider working with a home care provider to provide company and check in on them regularly. At Cherished Companions, we’re committed to giving your senior loved one the care they need while also going above and beyond to protect them from the risk of contracting the virus. All of our caregivers are trained in our full COVID-19 safety protocol, and we can work with your family to provide the level of care your loved one needs!
If you have further questions, would like to request resources, or want to inquire about getting a caregiver for your loved one or becoming a caregiver with Cherished, please contact us today!