Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic created unique barriers for families who wanted to spend time with their loved ones who were residents in senior living communities. Many individuals were unable to visit their senior loved ones during peaks of the pandemic, and so, connected with them via video chat instead of in person. Thanks to following safety protocols and subsequently lowered case rates, our world is beginning to operate in a more familiar way.
While video chat is still a very viable option for some people, others have begun re-engaging with in-person visits. We asked Tina V., Regional Director of Life Enrichment at The Goodman Group, for tips on how to have a successful in-person visit with loved ones.
How Visits Have Changed
Following safety protocols that put the health and well-being of residents first is a must. One of the ways this can be achieved during visits is to have families come into their loved ones room rather than visiting in the shared community space. Tina explains that, “Visits for families coming in to see their loved ones typically are taking place in the resident apartment more than out in common areas of the communities. I think this has been good for both parties because this allows the opportunity for a more connected visit and the family can see how the resident is thriving in their home setting.”
Ensuring a Successful Visit
There are many factors to consider when planning a visit to a senior loved one. It is important to consider what will foster a safe, pleasant, and memorable visiting experience for both the visitor and the resident. For example, “If a resident has cognitive decline and has not seen family members for a significant period of time, wearing name tags may benefit them,” shares Tina.
“Depending on the ability level of the resident, folding laundry together, cooking or baking something they enjoyed doing together always brings back special memories,” adds Tina. Folding laundry may not seem like an extraordinarily exciting activity, but using a visit to not only connect with your loved one but also help them out around their space is an excellent use of time. They will be grateful of the work you helped them with and the time spent connecting!
Of course, “Photos or memory books are always a great way to connect and reminisce,” suggests Tina, “as well as doing puzzles or playing games.” Doing art projects, too, can be a great activity and leave you with a memento once it is completed. Try bringing a game along that holds a special memory to a visit.
“I know a family that has monthly cribbage tournaments with their loved one!” shared Tina. This is a great opportunity to have fun with a resident while also giving everyone something to look forward to.
The Power of Human Contact
The changes in COVID-19 policy have allowed for in-person visits to be more possible for some families. While video chat is an excellent alternative, it will never fully replace human to human contact. Tina shared that, “The majority of residents that I have had conversations with have said shared how happy they were to hug their family again. Physical touch is meaningful. Just to be able to see how they are in person and touch them means the world to the residents.”
Never underestimate the power of a hug or simply being in the same space as someone. Humans are social creatures and by nature, require contact with others. Whether you decide on playing a memorable family game with your loved one, help out with chores, or simply give them a hug, your visit is bound to have a positive impact on both you and your senior loved one.