Creating Contact: Connection Minus the Virus
We are in uncharted territory with this world-wide pandemic brought on by the COVID-19 virus, and caregiving, just like every other area of our lives, has been profoundly affected. It’s anything but “business as usual.”
Ironically, that which was causing the caregiver so much stress before the virus—having to go to the nursing home or tend to some business for their loved one—is the very thing we can’t do at present, and that interruption is causing its own unique stress. What we wouldn’t give just to hold their hands, wrap them up in a reassuring hug and tell them face to face how much we love them.
And the longer we’re away from them the more agitated we become. The situation is rife with uneasy feelings as we wonder if they’re being treated right, or if they’re eating, or if they’re wondering where we’ve all gotten to. And a real plague for the dementia caregiver is questioning whether our loved one even realizes we’ve not been there.
As we wait for the virus to abate, we actually do have some things that can help us keep in contact with our loved ones in care homes, but it’s going to require some creative thinking. Thanks in large part to the technology we have, there is a level of communication available to us that was unheard of only a generation or two ago.
For our loved ones in independent senior living communities who have their own cell phones, a video chat is right at our fingertips. Seeing faces and hearing them talk can calm a lot of anxiety—on both sides.
Even for our loved ones requiring a more skilled level of care, a video chat is still possible with the help of a nursing home staff member.
If you can, make your way to the area outside of your loved one’s window at the care home. Just seeing your face can brighten up their day, and you can use your cell phone to call their room and have a unique chat “through the glass.”
Write them a note in a special card and mail it to their care home; call the home and give them a “heads up” that your card is coming and you’d appreciate it if they’d make sure it’s delivered. Some patients may need assistance reading it, but a staff member can help to communicate your message.
Using methods of communicating like these during this unusual season can bring a lot of relief for caregivers and their loved ones alike.
On a side note, the current situation demonstrates why it’s important to have a good relationship with the staff members of the care home or assisted living community where our loved ones live. I encourage all family members to cultivate a professional friendship with the nurses, therapists and aides who have care of your loved one. You never know when a situation may arise where you can’t get by to see your loved one, but it’s great to know there is someone on staff you can call to find out how they’re doing.
Please stay vigilant about hand washing and social distancing as physicians and researchers persistently work toward a solution to the COVID-19 outbreak, and remember the words of David in Psalm 30:5, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”