COVID-19 has changed all our lives in a dramatic way. Senior Living Communities are following the CDC recommendations and restricting all visitors, volunteers and any person considered non-essential. There are some exceptions in end-of-life matters.
Activities and traditional mealtimes have changed. Social distancing is in effect and can lead to feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and fear in these patients and residents. Since seniors are at high risk of developing severe illness or even dying from COVID-19, these communities must take critical measures to minimize exposure to the virus.
Seniors with dementia are likely to be frightened with increased agitation and confusion because they are not sure what’s going on and they are now in an unfamiliar situation. It’s also hard to explain what social distancing is to these seniors, and why it’s important right now. Or something as simple as washing hands can be a challenging task with someone who is agitated or more confused.
Staff in care communities are trying to keep communication going by use of technology, but depending on the older adult’s capabilities, this communication may be limited. We have seen beautiful stories of staff arranging visits through a window, but chances are, someone with dementia may not quite understand why they cannot see their family member, and this may agitate them even further.
Call the activity director at the care facility to try to schedule a call for someone who cannot initiate a call on their own. If using technology is scary to your loved one, then schedule a telephone call with the staff so you can speak to your loved one.
Mail letters or care packages to your loved one Include favorite snacks and family photos or small photo albums. Most of all include messages of love. You can even email messages more often to the activity directors to print out to give to your loved one.
For loved ones who are safe and social distancing at home, plan a visit via FaceTime or Zoom and of course, the telephone is always an option. Have the kids make pictures to mail or drop off and prepare care packages with your loved one’s favorite healthy goodies. Have food delivered locally or drop off groceries so that your loved one does not need to head out to the grocery store during this time.
There are resources for your loved one out there if you cannot do the shopping due to your own health. If you need local resources, please feel free to call Van Dyck Law at 609-580-1044. We specialize in Elder Law and Elder Advocacy and can help you find a connection for your loved one.