Most senior living communities, including those operated by The Arbor Company, are prohibiting any visitors during the COVID-19 crisis. Older adults are at higher risk for serious illness and even death, particularly those with underlying health problems such as heart disease, diabetes or compromised immune systems.
So how can you stay in touch with your loved one during this time? You can always call on the phone or write a note to say hello, of course. But with creative uses of technology, you can find ways to ‘reach out and touch’ your loved one without physical contact that might put his or her health at risk. Here are a few ideas:
Is Mom or Dad on Facebook? Post photos, funny videos or memes to keep them updated on what’s going on with your family and to share what’s on your mind. If a video of a giggling baby brightened your day, why not share it with your senior loved one, too? (Concerned about privacy? Take a moment to learn how to use Facebook’s privacy settings. If you’re posting a photo of a child, for example, use the settings so that only your family members, or a select group of people, can see. If you want to share with just a few people, select the “Only Me” privacy setting for the post, then tag those people you do want to see the post.)
If your loved one can receive texts on his or her cellphone, use that for regular updates and check-ins. You don’t need major news – just share about the weather in your neighborhood or what you’re making for dinner. It’s the connection that counts. Depending on the model of cellphone, you may also send photos and links.
Digital Photo Frames
Gadgets like NixPlay or Skylight Frame allow you to send photos via email directly to a frame in your loved one’s home. You’ll need to get the gadget set up with a WiFi connection to get started. But once that’s done, you can send photos any time you like. They’ll popup automatically on your loved one’s digital picture frame.
If you and your loved one both have connected Apple devices, you can video-chat via Apple’s FaceTime feature. To keep usage to a minimum, make sure you’re connected to WiFi if possible when using FaceTime.
The following options are available to residents in Arbor Company communities.
If you aren’t already using the real-time, cloud-based Sagely Family App, it’s time to get started. It’s a fun and easy way to keep in touch. Download the app and stay in constant touch with your loved, following his or her daily activities in real time. Using the app, you can take a look at the community’s calendar of events and see when and how your loved one is participating in our social activities throughout the day. Our engagement staff occasionally posts pictures, so that you can feel reassured that your loved one is staying active and making new friends!
Arbor’s “It’s Never 2 Late®” (iN2L) user-friendly, person-centered technology brings the world to our residents – a great resource when visitors are limited. Of special interest right now is the Family Connection, which provides easy-to-use Skype and email so that residents can stay in touch. Ask your community’s engagement director to help you get connected to your loved one if you haven’t already. The best part: even seniors with little or no computer experience can use and enjoy iN2L. In addition, iN2L also gives residents access to brain games, spirituality (devotionals, scripture studies, sermons from multiple faith traditions), classic TV & movies, sports, travel, history and physical fitness resources. Each resident has a separate log-in, allowing quick access to favorite apps, personalized content and “customized memories” such as personal photos and videos.
If you don’t already have a tech solution in place, the Engagement staff in your loved one’s Arbor community will be glad to assist in helping set something up. However, we do ask you to please be patient. Team members are assisting many individual families at once during this unprecedented situation.
With some ingenuity and a little patience, we will find ways to help family members stay in touch. And we will get through this!