Staying connected. It’s no secret how very important this is to our overall physical and mental health and well-being. Over the years, researchers have conducted many different studies on the topic of social connection all with similar findings: the more connected we are to each other, the healthier we are in return.
According to Dr Emma Seppala, PhD, who is a science director at Stanford University and the author of The Happiness Track, these health benefits include a stronger immune system, reduction in depression and anxiety, higher self-esteem along with empathy, increased chance of longevity, and better emotional regularity.
Staying Connected During the Pandemic
When you think of some of the ways you like to stay connected with those you love, you might automatically think about spending time together in person, such as sharing a meal or browsing a store.
However, with the current state of affairs today, it is not always safe or feasible to be together in person, as much as your loved one may want that especially with loved ones who are more susceptible to contracting COVID-19.
The good news is that it is still possible to stay connected and maintain relationships with your loved ones in senior living communities.
Now that we are in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, staying connected may not be as easy or convenient as it once used to be, but it is definitely not impossible. While many facilities are limiting interaction, there are still many ways in which we can continue to stay connected to our loved ones while remaining physically apart.
Connecting In Person with Your Loved Ones
If your loved one is in a community that is allowing visitors, it is best to contact the organization beforehand or check their website and find out if there are any restrictions in place for visiting due to COVID-19.
Some common restrictions may include a limit on the number of visitors at one time, shortened visiting hours, or mandatory wearing of masks. If the weather permits and the facility has the space to accommodate, a visit outside may be safer at this time than a visit indoors.
The community organizers may also require you to maintain a distance of 6-feet from your loved one which can be difficult but remember, it is for their safety.
You should also make sure you bring hand sanitizer. Even if you don’t plan on physically touching or hugging your loved one, you will still come in contact with high touch areas such as doorknobs or faucets during your visit.
If being together with your loved one in person during this time is not a possibility, there are still a number of different ways to connect digitally with each other thanks to technology.
Now, not everyone is tech-savvy and there may be a bit of a learning curve at first when it comes to video calls, but it is an extremely safe and personal way to connect with your loved one.
Video chats are a popular way to stay connected because they allow each person to see the other one’s face and is also a guaranteed way to make your loved one smile.
There are many different video chat platforms to choose from, including Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, or Google Hangouts, among others. There is even an option to talk via video through Facebook messenger. The most important thing to consider when deciding which video platform to use is to choose a service that is already familiar to your loved one and yourself or a service that is not too difficult for them to learn how to use.
If they have never used the service before they may need some help getting it set up and understanding how it works for the first time. Here are some guides that can help you set up video calls on different platforms.
- Setting up a Zoom video call (note: you will need to create an account)
- Setting up a Google Hangouts video call (note: you will both need a Gmail email address)
- Setting up a FaceTime call (note: you will both need an Apple product)
- Setting up a Skype video call (note: your loved one will need email access)
We find that if you both have Facebook Messenger, this is one of the easiest video chat platforms to use for most parties. Here is a guide on how to use it. It is just an app download and then two clicks!
Playing games together online is another fun way to connect together digitally. There are lots of different mobile phone apps and websites for this, depending on which type of games you are wanting to play. Some popular games that are available to play online with friends and family include Clue, Monopoly, Online Bingo, and Scrabble.
Your loved one may also enjoy setting up a time for you to get together for a virtual coffee chat or lunch date where you play a game together or just chat.
Last but not least, never underestimate the power of a simple phone call. Hearing your familiar voice on the other end of the line will forever be a bright spot in your loved one’s day. If you have tried the video call platforms or online games and they just aren’t working for you, a phone call is also an effective way to stay connected.
It Won’t Always Be Like This
While it may be easy to get discouraged during this difficult period of our lives, especially if your time together with your loved one is being restricted due to no fault of your own, it’s important to remember that it won’t always be like this.
Better days are coming and the ability to stay socially connected is easier nowadays than it ever has been before. While our preferred methods of connecting may be limited, for the time being, staying connected is attainable and very much worth it.
Catholic Care Center is a nationally recognized organization that offers many activities and services to seniors. The expertly crafted wellness program ranges from intergenerational enrichment programs to daily outings and trips. The center has nurses who are qualified to work with senior patients and understand the specific care that these patients require. Click below to learn more about our organization.