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Staying Positive: How to Keep a Smile on the Faces of Loved Ones in Long-Term Nursing Care Facilities
As we head further down the path of fall, the weather is starting to change, the days are getting shorter and the holidays sit right around the corner. This year has already been very different from all the rest due to the pandemic and signs of that change are nowhere to be found.
For our loved ones who are living in long-term nursing care facilities, the pandemic has been extraordinarily difficult. Nursing homes pose many challenges that increase the risk of coronavirus infection and complications. Those living in these settings share living environments, have underlying health issues, come in close contact with caretakers, and the multitude of staffing and safety issues that already plagued nursing care facilities. As a result, high numbers of coronavirus cases and outbreaks were seen in these communities.
With many restrictions still in place, it might seem like a struggle to try to stay emotionally close and present with your loved ones. It is important to keep family connections to reduce anxiety and feelings of isolation and while in-person visits may not be possible there are still ways to keep a smile on their faces. Here are some ideas that you can do to help keep your loved ones’ spirits up as we head into the holiday season:
- Good Old Fashioned Mail – Handwritten cards and letters can brighten your loved one’s day. They are personal, sentimental, and can be re-read as a reminder that you care. Write to let them know that you are thinking of them and fill them in on what has been going on with you and your family.
- Share a Meal Virtually – Order a meal that your loved one enjoys and plan a dinner date with them. Have a delivery service bring the meal to their facility at a particular time. Then you can call or video chat with them and talk during this meal.
- Have a Window Visit – Many facilities will allow you to schedule time to visit with your loved one. This is usually done through a window on the ground floor. You will be able to talk to them, share smiles and laughs, and touch through the glass.
- Puzzles and Picture Books – These are two great ideas that really add a personal touch. For a loved one who enjoys puzzles, many companies will create a custom puzzle for you with a picture of our choosing. You can also decide how many pieces you would like it to be. Another great idea is to put together a picture book. This can be something you and your children can do at home or you can do it online through several different platforms.
- Create a Phone Chain – Make a schedule for different family members and friends to call and check in with your loved one. This is a great way for everyone to stay connected, not just for the person in the care facility. A bonus to this is that it gives your loved one something to look forward to every day.
There are so many fun and creative ways to stay emotionally close and to keep a smile on your loved ones’ faces even if they are living in a long-term care facility. Be innovative and use your imagination to lift their spirits. Also, don’t forget to engage their caretakers. They can help you carry out some of these ideas and this can be an opportunity to thank them for being on the frontlines and to find out if there is anything you can do to make their days a little brighter as well.