Fighting Loneliness in Assisted Living Facilities During COVID-19

Aug 14, 2020 | Living in a Community

It is difficult for many of us to mentally process stay-at-home orders and the restrictions that have taken place with COVID-19, but it has hit people residing in assisted living communities especially hard.  Most assisted living facilities have taken measures to keep residents safe during COVID-19 by strictly limiting or not allowing visitors.  While these precautions do ensure a much greater level of safety for residents, long-term isolation and quarantine can lead to unwanted side effects, such as mental stress, loneliness, and depression.  How can we help people in assisted living facilities avoid these situations and stay positive during these times? 

Support to Avoid Loneliness

Certainly, those that we care for may develop loneliness, and they may not understand the situation when we cannot come to visit their home and share in activities.  On the flip side of this, have you ever felt lonely despite being in a room full of people? Loneliness is not entirely an effect of being alone. We can also see our loved ones less often, and not feel overwhelmed with loneliness. One of the best ways to combat loneliness without direct visitation is to divert attention and make life itself more fulfilling. Here at Sundara Senior Living, we have and are doing that by expanding our agenda of in-house activities and entertainment. A happy resident, one that enjoys and looks forward to recreation time, one that feels less mental stress by experiencing heart-lifting fun, has less chance of focusing on feeling loneliness. Diversion to activities and entertainment creates well-being through a boost of positive thinking. 

How You Can Help Your Loved-One Stay Positive

There are ways you can help your loved one stay positive from afar. You are the expert when it comes to hobbies or the things in life that lift your them up. If you are not already connecting with staff at the assisted living facility, make a phone call, and determine who you can have a telephone meeting with and schedule one regularly. This appointment does not only involve hearing how your loved one is doing, but you can also help them to stay positive through maintaining a focus on what activities they are partaking in, specifically the things in life that you know they love. You become support and a voice from a distance.  Care packages, cards, and letters are another meaningful way to brighten the resident’s day. Consider including craft kits, books, crossword puzzles, games, adult coloring books, music, movies, and favorite foods. The care facility may have specific package requirements, especially during COVID-19 when items may be carefully disinfected before they are given to the resident. Check with your facility before you either send or take a package to the home. 

Avoid COVID-19 Discussions and the News

When you do connect with your loved one, offer your support in as many ways as you can but avoid arguing about COVID-19 and related news. Do not share overwhelming statistics or predictions.  If they express concern about the pandemic, acknowledge what they have to say, let them take ownership in their own emotions and thoughts (this is calming for them), but do not embellish on the details. Remind them how far they have come in life, and that they will also come out strong through this challenge. Then, move on to a positive discussion or activity to replace anxiety with hope or inspiration. If your loved one listens to a radio or watches the news, encourage them (ask staff for assistance), to tune into a non-newsy station. He or she may think they like watching negative news, but the continuous seed planting in this realm of media does not build a sense of positivity in anyone. 

We Can Help You with Staying Connected

Staying connected may seem challenging during these times. As we continue our discussion on how to fight loneliness while staying positive in assisted living facilities during COVID-19, in our next blog we will talk about how to stay connected despite today’s measures that limit visitation. If you are a caregiver and would like to talk about the best options today and for the future, give us a call at 512-399-5089. We can help you through every step of the way.