The social distancing that keeps our residents safe may be hard on you. Separation leaves some people feeling lonely, anxious or out-of-touch. So, we’ve mustered our creativity to help families stay connected with the seniors they can’t visit.

The following infographic provides a summary of our suggestions. Scroll down for more details.

Stay connected with seniors when you can't visit: infographic

We offer more details and ideas below.

While we’ve tailored our suggestions to meet Care Haven’s safety guidelines, they may be useful to others with at-risk friends or family members. Feel free to share!

1. Visit Virtually

EVERYBODY has a phone these days. Many of us access FaceTime, Skype, Zoom or other apps as well, in order to enjoy each others’ smiling faces.

Our residents and other older adults appreciate either an old-fashioned phone call or a video chat. Just be sure to arrange this ahead of time, so our caregivers can prepare Mom or Dad for your family visit. (Just email our Activities Director, Marie Rogers, at Marie@CareHavenHomes.com.)

Please keep your conversations light and upbeat. Furthermore, it’s better to make frequent short calls than try to hold your loved one’s attention for a long stretch.

2. Between Virtual Visits, 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, staring at that empty sheet of paper. A short note — even a postcard — will do. Just include

  1. A salutation (“Dear ____,”)
  2. 3 or 4 sentences
  3. The closing (“Love,”)
  4. Most important, your signature — legible, with an 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 at the same time and 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.

Speaking of mail, we appreciate it when you send all correspondence to our office, where we can sanitize it before redelivery.

3. Share Your Family’s Artistic Talents

When you can’t visit older adults, enlist both young and old in a creative effort to stay in touch.

  • Remember the preschool masterpiece proudly displayed on the refrigerator? Grandma or Grandpa still has a place of honor for small drawings or uplifting messages from the family.
  • 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 always a replay button for anyone who wants more.
  • At a loss for ideas? Stick to something seasonal. For instance, during April, most people love pictures of birds and flowers, while in December they’d welcome a favorite carol.

4. Care Packages Keep You In Touch When You Can’t Visit Your Favorite Senior

If your loved one could make up a new verse to “My Favorite Things,” what would they include? Consider items that comfort, pamper or amuse them. (We stock our homes with plenty of tasty treats, so please don’t send food items.)

You could send an adult coloring book, a puzzle, a favorite magazine or a compact coffee table book. Make it a small parcel — think “SURPRISE!” rather than “storage.” After all, just as an older adult appreciates brief but frequent visits, they enjoy staying connected with a series of notes and small packages when you can’t visit.

Please do us a favor and sanitize everything in your package before sending it to our office. We’ll do the same before we deliver it. (If you’re considering something like a small tube of lotion, please send only sealed, unopened items at this time.)

5. A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words (Which Is Many, Many Visits!)

Have you tried out photo sites like ShutterflyMpixCVS or Walgreen’s? Many are running specials as people shelter in place.

Consider creating an album filled with pictures of family members or recalling special memories. Take the opportunity to scan and upload treasured wedding photos or vacation pictures, thereby preserving a digital copy. (You can always use them later in other albums as well!)

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 Safely Connect When You Can’t Visit

Most of our residents are 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 still welcome flowers, but you could send the DVD of a classic film or a favorite soundtrack CD instead. The large TV rooms in our homes safely accommodate a special screening.

Have Questions Or Need More Suggestions To Keep Connected With Seniors When You Can’t Visit?

We’re here to help. Just email our Activities Director, Marie Rogers, at Marie@CareHavenHomes.com.