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Use Technology to Connect with Loved Ones
in Long-term Care During COVID-19

My mother, Dorothy, lives in an assisted living facility not far from my home. She’s struggling with dementia that worsens month by month, and I visit her often. We also have a beloved aide, Barbara, who takes her on outings several times a week.

When the facility announced a ban on visitors about a week ago to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, I felt a bit of panic, knowing I would not be able to see my mom in person. Would she realize I was no longer visiting but not understand why? How would I check on her? How long will this last?

I immediately thought about turning to technology to solve the problem. Often, in the past during visits, I would set up FaceTime or Skype calls with other family members who do not live nearby, so everyone could communicate.

Within a few days of the visitor ban, the staff reached out to families to let us know they will connect us with our loved ones using technology at a time convenient to all.

We set up a quick FaceTime with my mom. It was so good to talk to her! Of course, she wanted to know when I would be coming to visit, and it was upsetting to have to dance around my answer. But I was relieved to see she looked well and was in good spirits.

If you have a loved one in a facility and you can’t visit, ask the staff to set up a virtual get-together. You and your family member will both feel better. And right now, during these very stressful times, feeling just a little less anxious means a lot.

Sandra Levine is a filmmaker and inspirational speaker, presenting programs to caregivers and health care professionals. Visit www.sandralevine.com to learn more.

Posted March 19, 2020