Even the most introverted people need human contact in order to survive and thrive. As we age, our social networks dwindle due to death, mobility limitations, and fewer opportunities for socializing through employment or other previous memberships or affiliations, making it all the more important to maintain connections to family members and nearby friends.
Seniors who require skilled nursing care in long-term care facilities look forward to visits with their children and grandchildren. Unfortunately, social distancing orders put in place to comply with CDC recommendations during the COVID-19 pandemic make in-person visits impossible in most cases right now. With little access to the outside world, seniors with chronic health conditions may feel particularly nervous and unstable when dealing with medical threats, putting them at risk for anxiety, depression, and even physical health decline.
The staff at Princeton Health Care Center recognizes this risk and is making video conferencing available to residents whenever possible to help them maintain visits with loved ones. These virtual visits allow seniors in the highest risk categories to safely connect with their families and friends without transmitting illness to themselves or other residents. While video calls do not allow for hugs and kisses, there are things that you can do to make your time together comfortable and special.
Make sure they are comfortable with the technology: Human beings are often resistant to change and learning new methods of doing things. Technology can be particularly intimidating for older adults who have rarely used gadgets like computers or cell phones in their lives. Explain how video calls work to them over the phone, and have them ask any of our skilled nursing care staff to explain the programs to them ahead of time so they will feel confident in their ability to use the equipment. We will have one of our friendly staff members present with them during the video call to help get things set up and to be there if any technical issues would occur.
Be patient and expect resistance: Even if your loved one is comfortable using video conferencing, it is not the same as being with you. Understand that their reluctance does not mean they do not want to spend time with you, but rather that change is hard. Don’t force any calls, and consider starting with short visits and building up to longer ones.
Maintain routines: If you usually visit your loved one’s long-term care facility as a family, gather everyone together to have a group visit. If your loved one counts on a weekly dinner or lunch date with you, you arrange to be eating the same meal at the same time for a feeling of continuity and normalcy. If you play games, see if you can find a virtual version or choose one that can be played from a distance, like charades or a trivia game. You can resume conversation just as you usually would, asking about their day and telling them about yours.
The current restrictions on visitation are temporary and put in place for the protection of all of our residents. Call Princeton Health Care Center today to arrange a video conference with your loved one. We can’t wait to help you connect!