By Mary Koenig
The COVID -19 pandemic has us all feeling unsettled. If you have a loved one living in a memory care facility or a loved one in an assisted living facility who has memory issues, you might be particularly concerned with their well-being during this difficult time.
Since assisted living facilities are currently restricting visitors, you may be feeling disconnected from your loved one, especially if you visited often or even assisted with their care.
One of the most important things you can do for your loved one is take care of yourself. Pay attention to social distancing guidelines, wash your hands often, avoid touching your face, and limit your errands as much as possible. You need to stay healthy so that when this is behind us, you can reconnect with your loved one and celebrate together.
Here are some suggestions to help you through this time:
• The facility should be keeping you notified of the steps they are taking to keep your loved one safe. If you are not hearing from them, reach out to the case manager or administrator.
• If your loved one has a phone, schedule calls for a time when your loved one is usually in their room and call regularly.
• If the facility has not offered to arrange Facetime or Zoom calls with you and your loved one, feel free to request these calls and schedule them routinely.
• Mail cards or letters that staff can read with your loved one — residents just love getting mail!
• If the facility is allowing packages to be delivered, drop off your loved one’s favorite treats.
• Mail or drop off word search books, puzzles, coloring books, magazines or any other activities that your loved one might enjoy.
• If you have time, put together a photo album or collage of pictures for your loved one — residents can revisit photo albums day after day!
• Consider setting something outside your loved one’s window (with permission of course!) — one of our family members planted a pinwheel garden for her mother to enjoy from her apartment window.
Keep in mind that your loved one may or may not understand what is happening in the community. Sharing too much info with them via phone calls or video chats can increase their anxiety level. Trust that staff are keeping them informed as much as is necessary.
Most important, know that you are missed! Residents and staff are anxious to see you again as soon as possible. Stay safe and stay connected!
Mary Koenig, Administrator at The Heritage