The Coronavirus pandemic has created many new unique challenges for families, particularly those who wish to visit and spend time with loved ones that reside in senior living communities. At MacIntosh, we fully understand nothing can replace face-to-face interactions but have made keeping our residents connected and reduce any feelings of isolation a top priority. Utilization of technology and services, such as FaceTime and Zoom, have been implemented in our communities to help bridge this gap while in-person visitation remains limited.
With new technology, confusion and frustration are likely to arise causing slower conversation and possibly discomfort during virtual calls so we’ve pulled together some helpful information and tips to help make the most out of your virtual visits.
Check Connectivity before Your Visit
Ensure your internet signal is strong so you won’t experience any interruptions or dropped calls. If using a service like Zoom, log in a little early to ensure your audio, device and video are working, this will help avoid any delays and allow you time to work through any possible issues. Also, make sure your device is charged to last through the entire visit and keep a charger close just in case.
Create an Uplifting Atmosphere
While the main focus during your call will of course be you and your loved one, a bright open area can ensure a positive uplifting conversation. Avoid sitting with sunlight behind you as it can cause some blurred and distorted picture. Lastly, make sure your camera is at eye level and that you are in a quiet space so there aren’t distracting background sounds.
Plan Your Conversation
Before your call, take some time to think about positive things that are going on or events that have happened in the outside world. It’s important to guide your conversation in a positive direction and find ways to keep them up to date without being the bearer of bad news. Reminisce about important or funny stories from the past, whether it be childhood, marriages, vacations or their favorite meals. Gather any materials or props you may want to show them beforehand so you don’t have to shuffle through trying to find things and potentially lose valuable time.
For those with loved ones that have dementia, use props like plants, flowers, pets or even a little tour of your home. We also suggest avoiding questions that your loved one may not be able to answer, for example, what they ate or asking what is significant about a particular day. Try giving them cues that will help them remember, “today’s Monday, I saw you were having your favorite lunch, soup and grilled cheese, I hope it was good!”
Include the Family
While talking to your children is wonderful, pull in those grandchildren for the ultimate beam of joy. Including grandchildren and even family pets can create a more wholesome feeling for your visit, after all grandparents love their grandbabies. This can also help ignite some additional lively conversation points.
Use a Variety of Communication
Video calls may be more efficient to getting in touch with loved ones in senior living communities but it’s not the only way to connect with them. We encourage you to use various forms of communication to stay in touch and lift their spirits. Families can send letters, pictures, drawings from the kids, by mail or email. Save on postage by using our MacIntosh Messaging email addresses! Drop off something special if you’re local, for example, make two photo books; give them one and keep one for yourself, then look through it together during your next call.
Taking any opportunity to connect with your loved ones and send them something special, not only brightens their day but also assures them you haven’t forgotten them and helps reduce the loneliness they may be feeling.
“They may not remember what you said or what you did, but they’ll remember how you made them feel.”