Older adults who live in senior care communities and their families and friends face new challenges. Many communities are not permitting visitors to protect residents from the virus. Families and loved ones are separated and often feel isolated. What used to be frequent visits, outings, hugs, and monitoring loved ones’ care have had to stop.

Paul and his mother Elizabeth are facing this situation. Elizabeth had a stroke, suffers with memory loss, and lives in an assisted living community. He used to visit twice a week to join her for meals and provide encouragement to eat. Paul wonders if his mother will cooperate with the staff without him present. He misses sharing family jokes and memories with her.

Elizabeth’s poor memory makes isolation difficult. She does not remember when Paul says he will call and forgets why he does not visit. She cannot remember why she must stay in her room and eat alone. Paul worries she will become anxious, depressed, and stop eating.

The staff provides in-room activities and lead hallway exercises. They are doing their best to keep residents engaged while avoiding group gatherings. But what about the hours in between? His mother is bored and misses sitting in the lobby with other residents.

Paul is not alone in confronting these issues. What can family and friends of older adults do to make separation more bearable?

  • Consider hiring a care manager to facilitate communication between staff and you. A care manager can provide regular updates on how your loved one is doing and any changes in health status.
  • Make regular phone calls and virtual visits through Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, or GrandPad to maintain connection.
  • If your loved one needs assistance with using the phone, a computer or a tablet, inquire if the community staff can set up phone calls and virtual visits.
  • Ask the staff if you may drop off items to entertain your loved one such as puzzles, books, photo albums, playing cards, coloring books and markers.
  • Drop off or deliver flowers or a favorite restaurant meal if permissible.
  • Hire a care manager to check in with your loved one often to provide another source of socialization and support.

These are difficult times but with some creativity, we may keep contact with loved ones and reduce
isolation until in-person visits can be resumed.

If you would like assistance, Golden Pond Virginia has a team of professionals who can help you navigate decisions for your aging parents or grandparents. Please reach out to us at 703-723-3737 to let us know how we can help.