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Four Low-tech Tips to Stay Connected to Assisted Living and Nursing Home Residents during Covid-19

All of the family and friends I know who reside in assisted living communities and nursing homes are even more isolated than in the past since no one can visit. A recent poll (but before the Covid-19 outbreak) by the University of Michigan-AARP found that 1 in 3 people aged 50 to 80 reported feeling lonely and isolated. In this hi-tech age, I can think of many options to stay connected to these folks as the coronavirus rules our lives. However, they may not be equipped to participate on their end. So, here are some low-tech options.

  1. Cards and Calls: How easy is it to just pick up the phone and make a voice connection? I know that as I fill my day with activities that stopping to call someone takes more energy than sending a text. But, if texting isn’t an option then hearing someone’s voice is! Or, send a simple note. With Hallmark and American Greetings, for example, you can send a card for any occasion. Who doesn’t enjoy receiving mail?

  2. Window Visits: If you’re lucky enough to have your loved one nearby, then how simple is this? But, if you are out shopping or taking a walk you can arrange for your family member to be near the window (perhaps with the assistance of a caregiver). A friendly wave can brighten the day by allowing a sighting of a grandchild or pet. Plus, you get peace-of-mind by putting your eyes on your loved one.

  3. Video Chats: Has the community’s staff arranged for you to visit via platforms like Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, or another platform? Check with the management. The goal is to make the technology setup and operation the responsibility of someone else!

  4. Baked Treats for the Staff: Are you baking up a storm? How many loaves of bread, cakes, etc., can you consume while cooped up at home? Sharing with the caregivers is an indirect way to connect with family and friends in assisted living and nursing homes. Now, more than ever, they are part of your family. Show your appreciation for their extra-large sacrifice during these tough times. Don’t forget about the night shift! They are the workers I don’t know because I’m never around when they are. They are tucked away and don’t receive much recognition.

So, bring out some old-school solutions to our new-world situation. I’ve tried every one of these and they make me feel better, too! (I’ve delivered blueberry muffins and gingerbread to my mom’s assisted living community.)

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