Some of our residents’ family members live out of town or travel. And, of course, there are times when local visitors’ sniffles could lead to serious illness in older adults. So, from time to time, we’re separated from one another. Since that may leave your loved one feeling lonely, we offer six suggestions to help you stay connected with seniors when you can’t visit.
The following infographic provides a summary. Scroll down for more details.
We offer more details and ideas below.
While we’ve tailored our suggestions for Care Haven’s families, they may be helpful to others with at-risk friends. Feel free to share!
1. Visit virtually
EVERYBODY has a phone these days. Many of us enjoy each other’s smiling faces over FaceTime, Zoom or other apps.
Our residents and other older adults appreciate either an old-fashioned phone call or a video chat. To arrange one, please call our Activities Director or your House Manager in advance, so caregivers can give Mom or Dad notice and help them prepare for their starring role on the small screen.
Please keep your conversations light and upbeat. After all, it’s better to make frequent short calls than try to hold your loved one’s attention for a long stretch.
2. Stay in touch with seniors
The old-fashioned way
Older adults learned to stay connected between visits through the fine art of letter writing. Let’s face it: we all love getting cards and notes via snail mail.
Don’t be intimidated while staring at that empty sheet of paper. A short note — even a postcard — will do. Just include
- A salutation (“Dear ____,”)
- 3 or 4 sentences
- The closing (“Love,”)
- Most importantly, your signature — legible, with a printed identifier to help if a caregiver needs to read it (Your granddaughter Joan — Your son Jon — Your old friend June — George, your friend from church — Gina, your neighbor from Brookside)
Feel free to add a heart, smiley face or doodle, too. You can even write several notes or cards simultaneously, then mail them days or a week apart.
Snail mail: that’s all it takes to stay connected with seniors when you can’t visit.
3. Share your family’s artistic talents
Whenever you can’t visit older adults, enlist a child in your efforts to stay in touch.
- Remember the preschool masterpiece once proudly displayed on the refrigerator? Grandma or Grandpa always reserve a place of honor for small drawings or encouraging messages.
- Don’t stop at the visual arts. You can email a video of a vocal solo, piano piece or those first steps and cartwheels. Again, please keep it short — there’s a replay button for anyone who wants more.
- At a loss for ideas? Stick to something seasonal. For instance, most people love pictures of birds and flowers in April, while they’d welcome a favorite carol in December.
4. Send a package to say you care
If your loved one wrote a new verse for “My Favorite Things,” what would they sing about? Wrap it up and send it off! Consider little items to comfort, pamper or amuse.
You could include an adult coloring book, puzzle, favorite magazine or coffee table book with plenty of pictures. Make it a small parcel — think “SURPRISE!” rather than “storage.” After all, just as older adults appreciate brief but frequent visits, they’re happy to stay connected with a series of short notes and small gifts when you can’t stop in.
5. A picture is worth a thousand words
(which is many, many visits!)
Consider creating an album featuring pictures of family members or memories. Scan and upload treasured wedding or vacation pictures, thereby preserving a digital copy. (You can include the digital photos in unlimited special occasion albums!)
Our caregivers appreciate it if you also add text to photo books, identifying both people and places. Then we can help your loved one share their memories.
6. Help seniors connect with one another
Most of our residents eagerly share their good fortune with others. (Perhaps on past visits, you’ve noticed Mom proudly move your garden bouquet to the living room for all to see.)
She’d welcome flowers, but you could send the DVD of a classic film or a favorite CD soundtrack instead. The large TV rooms in our homes safely accommodate a special screening.
Need help to stay connected with seniors when you can’t visit?
Just email our Activities Director.