With nursing homes and assisted living communities in isolation to protect residents, many community care partners and family members are struggling with how to maintain communication with their loved ones.  We have some suggestions:

1. Phone calls and emails— phone calls continue to be a helpful communication tool. Some people are sitting outside their loved one’s window and calling on the phone. This is a great way to be with each other while still maintaining social distance. If your family member has email access, this can be another way to check in regularly.

2. Virtual options— as our elder care coordinators have been calling communities where our clients reside, many have said that they have purchased iPads for residents to use. They can FaceTime or Skype with friends and family. Some nursing communities are asking that you call and schedule an appointment for the FaceTime session. Call your loved one’s community to ask what their procedures are for accessing this technology.

3. Letters— good old-fashioned cards and letters are a wonderful way to reach out during this time. Pull out your stationery and note cards and get writing..

4. Pictures— with children at home from school, many parents are who desperately seeking activities to engage them. Why not have them draw pictures or color pages for elders? These can be added to letters or can be dropped off in bulk at your local nursing home for the benefit of all of the residents.

5. Social Media— many nursing homes and assisted living communities are using social media as a way to update families. Not only can you see pictures of the activities that are taking place, but you can also get updates about any policies or procedures that may have changed.

6. Other ideasthis article from AARP include some other ideas and questions for when your loved one is quarantined in a facility. One interesting idea is to ask if the facility if you could fax a quick note.