The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, and more specifically the physical distancing that has been recommended to minimise its spread, has changed many of our lives. Having to reduce our contact with others means we cannot see our loved ones as much as we ordinarily would.
The Australian Government’s Department of Health has advised that age care facilities restrict visits, with gatherings and external excursions postponed as well. People who are self-isolating in their homes are also missing out on social contact as a result.
These restrictions can be distressing for both the elderly person and their families and friends. Fortunately there are options available to us when it comes to staying connected to each other – you just have to think outside the square.
Put pen to paper
The art of letter writing has got a bit lost these days due to other technology being at our fingertips. Yet receiving a letter can be much more exciting than an email arriving in your inbox. A letter takes more effort to put together and carries with it a greater sense of the sender (their handwriting, the stationery they used, etc) which makes it feel much more special.
With Australia Post still open, buy some stamps and send a letter to your loved one to let them know you are thinking of them.
Use technology to your advantage
Of course technology has given us so many more ways to stay connected. Does your loved one have a Facebook page or email account where you can chat in real time or send them a message to read? Do they have access to a computer or phone with a camera so you can video chat? Whether it be through FaceTime, What’s App, Skype, Facebook; there are so many video chat options available to you.
While video chatting can seem impersonal compared with in person meet-ups, it also gives you the chance to be creative. Perhaps you can give your loved one a tour of your veggie garden, show them the new painting you’ve put on the wall, or pass them along to different family members? You can also put a smile on their face by dressing up in a formal or silly outfit, or have a dress code – everyone can be asked to wear a hat or dress all in the one colour. A splash of novelty never hurt and will give you a talking point!
Pick up the phone
Not everyone is tech savvy, so don’t forget about a good old fashioned phone call. Giving your family member or friend a ring might just take 30 minutes out of your day and be the highlight of theirs. While you can’t see each other (which may be a good thing if you’re not feeling ‘camera ready’!), hearing each other’s voices at the end of the line can be very comforting.
Deliver care packages
While rules differ depending on the aged care facility, you may be able to deliver your loved one a gift to remind them that you’re thinking of them. You might be able to send them some yummy treats to enjoy or something to keep them busy, such as a puzzle or new books.
You don’t have to go all out either on an expensive gift – something as simple as a little photo album filled with new pics is a lovely gesture. Check with the facility directly to see what is possible.
Again this option will depend on the rules in place at the aged care facility your loved one is in, but one way people are getting inventive is by visiting yet staying outside! Much like this father and son in the US, you might be able to see your loved one even if you can’t be in the same room as them.
Speaking to each other by phone and looking at each other through the window, it’s a clever option in times like these. You can even set up catch up times to make it a regular ‘date’ to look forward to. Pull up a lawn chair and make yourself comfy!
Below are just some of the ways local Aged Care Homes are helping you stay in touch with loved ones at times when restrictions are in place:
Japara: Partitioned or window visits
e- Telegram, Skype and Zoom
Lifeview: Window of Opportunity program
FaceTime, Skype, Zoom and phone calls
Opal: Window time
Zoom and facetime meetings
Allity: Window Visits
Main image: Evgeni Tcherkasski