Dealing With Not Being Able to Visit Elderly Family Members
Because older adults are at higher risk for severe complications from COVID-19, many people are being forced to temporarily postpone visits with elderly family members. This is hard for everyone, of course, but right now it’s one of the best ways to keep your loved ones safe. And, if they live in an assisted living facility or nursing home, staying away also helps protect other residents and their caretakers (often people you know and trust).
But forgoing visits for the time being doesn’t have to mean isolation. What can you do to keep your older family member feeling loved, safe and connected?
Call and call again. Check in daily, or even more than daily if it feels right. By speaking to your loved one regularly, you’ll know quickly if something sounds amiss. You’ll also be able to make sure your family member’s mental health isn’t taking a turn for the worse. If your older relative has hearing loss, make sure he or she has a suitable phone, or call the nursing home and request that they facilitate a phone call.
Get tech savvy. A short time ago, it may have seemed like too much of a challenge to get your older relative comfortable with FaceTime, Skype, Zoom or another audiovisual platform. But now, the ability to have a face-to-face connection is more important than ever. If your parent is isolated in his or her home, try walking through the setup or installation steps over the phone. If he or she lives in a care home, see if an employee has the time and ability to help.
Send a care package. No, they’re not just for your college freshman! Your elderly loved one is likely feeling disconnected and bored without the ability to see visitors, venture out, or socialize with friends and other residents. Drop off (it’s allowed) or mail in puzzles, coloring books, novels or favorite nonfiction books, art supplies, needlecraft supplies, board games or other entertainment. You can also start mailing letters, cards and art from the grandkids.
Plan a TV or movie date. If you’re worried your loved one spends an unhealthy amount of time watching the news, suggest an alternative that you can share together. Choose a show or movie that you both have access to (you may have to return to the appointment viewing of cable TV unless your relative has streaming services). Watch together, either over the phone or checking in later to discuss.
Try a distance visit. If your loved one lives in a facility, see if rules allow for a ground-floor window visit. Simply seeing each other through glass can be a comfort. If your elderly relative lives independently, have the kids decorate the car and drive by.
Take care of yourself. It can be hard to manage kids, perform your job and advocate for your older relatives. It’s painful to not be able to see those you love, worry that they’ll get sick and wonder if they’re being cared for. Don’t neglect your own health during this challenging time.
Speak With an Elder Law Attorney
At Nadler Biernath, we’re happy to be able to support families as they navigate this ongoing crisis. We have experience handling all aspects of elder law. Call us today at 770-999-9799 to schedule your initial consultation (conducted virtually) to discuss how we can help your loved ones. Stay safe and healthy!