Visiting restrictions have been tough on my clients who live in nursing homes and assisted living facilities – and it’s been tough on their families. Loneliness and isolation are real problems and are taking a toll on people’s mental health. In one case here in Florida that made the national news, a 57-year old woman took a job as a dishwasher in a nursing home just so she could visit her husband, who has dementia and thought she had abandoned him.
As states begin to ease into reopening plans, I’ve been encouraging families to thoughtfully prepare for reunions with their loved ones. Here are some tips I’m sharing with my clients’ family members:
- Start reorienting the senior by sending photos, letters, or cards a couple weeks in advance of an in-person visit. Seniors with memory issues may not remember what their family members look like, and photos can jog their memory. I’ve also been helping families stay connected with their loved ones with FaceTime.
- Remember that too much activity and too many visitors all at once can overwhelm a senior, especially if they have dementia. Start off with short visits, such as a visit during mealtime with just one or two family members. It’s best to plan a series of short visits spread out over time with a limited number of people.
- Plan to bring something special that the person will enjoy, such as flowers or chocolates, or perhaps drawings made by grandchildren.
- Be prepared for tears! It’s been a challenging time for everyone, even for seniors who are aware of the pandemic and understand why they haven’t been able to see their family in person. I’ve taken pictures with my phone of empty grocery store aisles (especially the toilet paper and cleaning supplies aisles!) to show seniors how different things are. Even so, it can be difficult for them to fathom how much things have changed.
Finally, be aware that it may be hard for your loved one to understand why people are wearing face coverings and any other personal protective equipment, or PPE, required of staff and visitors by the facility. If possible, consider wearing a face mask with a bright, cheery design when you visit.
Senior Transitions helps families with aging parents or grandparents to find the best life possible care options and help the aging family members live with independence. There are many care options and each individual is unique. We have been providing services in the Tallahassee area for over 30 years.
If you would like to find out more about how we can help your family, please contact us:
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