With many of our loved ones separated physically from the family, it’s important to know how to care for seniors without putting them at risk of the coronavirus. Here we share ways to maintain connections with loved ones in a safe way and tips on how to navigate conversations about social distancing.
Tips for Interacting With Older Family Members During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Let’s take a look at the tools available to help us strengthen our bonds with those we love, but can’t physically be with right now. Studies by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), have shown that staying engaged with family members is a critical part of aging in a healthy way.
Use Technology to Stay Connected
- FaceTime (iPhone) and Google Hangouts (Android) are both excellent for face-to-face get-togethers with friends and family members. Why not schedule one during lunch or dinner and share a meal together?
- Zoom meetings are a great way to bring multiple people together for a fun game of trivia or a virtual all-ages talent show. The basic Zoom app is free to download and easy to use.
- Staying active can help manage the stress of quarantine and is good for mobility. Many online streaming services offer gentle chair based workout videos for seniors. Fire up a Zoom meeting and coordinate a group exercise session.
- Texting throughout the day is an excellent way to keep the conversation going and can help ease anxiety. Send jokes, silly memes, and photos or short videos of the grandkids.
Don’t Forget About Mail and Delivery Services
- Handwritten letters and care packages are always wonderful gifts to receive. Avoid sending perishable items to assisted living, and long term care facilities, as most are holding packages and mail in quarantine for two to three days to keep residents safe. If you are caregiving at home, it may be a good idea to separate packages received from outside sources for a few days.
- Self care and comfort items like soft blankets, cozy pajamas, and bath products can help your loved ones feel connected to you. For those who are taking care of a parent at home, stock up on their favorite snacks or crafting materials they might need for their hobbies.
- Order a book that you both can read at the same time and discuss in a book club. Include other family members and make it a weekly virtual meeting. For those who are visually impaired, sites like Audible.com and your local library offer audio books that can be downloaded into a phone or tablet.
- Use a food delivery service to order a meal that can be shared from a new restaurant you haven’t visited before. Coordinate a family dinner by having other households order from the same restaurant and eat together in a video chat or Zoom meeting.
Marquis has a #SendSeniorsLove program that allows families and community members to drop off mail in a special secure mailbox. You can also connect with residents through our Virtually Vital Facebook group and via email at VirtuallyVital@marquiscompanies.com.
Special Considerations Regarding COVID-19 and Senior Safety
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. With states across America easing social distancing measures, when is it safe to take calculated risks to reunite families?
The truth is, that we don’t know yet. Seniors aged 65 and older are extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 and it is important not to rush their reintroduction into general society. According to the John Hopkins School of Public Health, herd immunity from conditions like COVID-19 are not reached until 70% to 90% percent of the population has been confirmed as immune. Herd immunity is how a society works collectively to mitigate the transmission of disease. This is what protected us from the once deadly epidemics of polio and measles.
It is important to understand that re-entry into communities and the return to “normal” social interaction will be a slow process. Until immunity is established across the U.S., it will be difficult to determine an end date for social distancing measures for those in the most danger, like our senior community.
Keeping the lines of communication open with your aging parent or senior loved one is paramount to helping alleviate their anxiety. Don’t be afraid to address that “elephant in the room.” It’s okay to talk about possible timelines, but always stay informed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides up-to-date guidelines on social distancing.
Marquis understands that many families are anxious to begin in-person visits with their loved ones again. We are dedicated to the care and safety of our residents as well as to the health of our caregivers. We will work with local health authorities to establish our plans and timelines. As more information becomes available, we will keep you informed every step of the way.
Learn more about the Marquis response to social distancing measures here.
Compassionate Senior Caregiving Amid the COVID-19 Outbreak
As a family owned business, we understand the importance of connection and we are dedicated to helping you stay in touch while we keep those that you love safe. We will help you stay connected during these uncertain times. Our compassionate caregivers can provide your loved one with a phone or tablet and help install and run the necessary programs. You can talk, text, and video chat as many times a day as you would like.
We’ve created a special COVID-19 resource page to keep you up to date on our policies and offer resources about how we are working to keep your loved ones healthy.
Contact us today if you have any questions regarding our COVID-19 response plan.