How to Stay Connected with Loved Ones in Senior Living during COVID-19

Sunrise Senior Living  |  June 10, 2020
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COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, has driven people around the globe to practice social distancing in an effort to quell the disease’s spread. It’s hard for all of us to forego restaurants, movies, concerts, or just simple gatherings with friends. But this reality can be especially challenging for families who have a loved one living in a senior living community.

Elderly people and those with preexisting conditions are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, which means that communities need to be extremely careful before relaxing any infection control protocols too soon. This includes continuing to restrict visitors to only those who are medically necessary at Sunrise communities for the time being. Any steps toward limited resumption of operations will be made in close coordination with guidance from federal, state/provincial and local government and health agencies.

That said, we also know building and maintaining close connections and regular interactions with family and friends is also critical to our overall health and total well-being.

Sunrise remains committed to helping our residents have positive experiences and meaningful days even in the midst of this global health crisis through personalized programming. During the pandemic, those have taken a different form. For instance, teams are providing one-to-one in-suite programming with activities baskets based on each resident’s hobbies and interests, from art and music to word games and scrapbooking.

Additionally, there are still many ways that loved ones can stay in touch with residents at Sunrise communities. One major step Sunrise has taken is distributing over one thousand iPads to all of our communities. Team members are using these iPads, preinstalled with Skype and FaceTime, to facilitate video chats between residents and their loved ones on a regular basis.

“The iPad FaceTime calls have been a blessing for Mom socially, and I brag to all my friends that you guys do this,” said a Sunrise of John’s Creek, GA, family member in response to a Sunrise survey. “I really believe that each and every one thinks of their role at Sunrise as a ‘calling’ more than a job!”

“Thanks to the amazing staff at Sunrise, we have enjoyed video chats with grandma and when we talk to her on the phone, her outlook is positive and she always has an anecdote to share with us about a fun and caring interaction with the staff,” said a Sunrise at Alta Loma, CA, family member in a Yelp review. “We are so grateful that our grandma is happy and safe, especially through these difficult times!”

Besides video chatting and phone conversations, there are plenty of other ways you can stay in touch with a Sunrise resident.

  • Write letters and cards: Our residents love receiving mail. Handwritten letters and cards come with a special personality that can’t be replicated in emails and text message. This is a great activity for the younger members of the family to enjoy, too.

You can also consider writing letters to residents who you don’t know personally. Being pen pals with a resident or group of residents can be a fun, educational, and inspiring experience for both you and the resident(s). Call the community and ask to speak to the activities department to arrange the specifics.

  • Drop off food or care packages: You can mail packages to loved ones or call the community ahead of time to set up a time where you can drop off items for your loved ones. This is a really meaningful way to brighten your loved one’s day, whether through activities such as books and craft kits, or a delicious batch of their cookies from the store. You will need to leave your delivery outside of the community with a team member, and no homemade food can be accepted.

  • Make family videos: Reach out to family members all across the world, and ask them to send you messages to your loved one. Then, compile these clips into a short video for your family member to enjoy. Make them lighthearted and fun! For example, have the kids or grandkids read jokes or perform dance moves. Anything that makes you laugh will likely make them laugh, too.

Stay Up to Date on COVID-19 Response

Sunrise is focused on transparent and personalized communications with all of our families during this time. Community leaders are sending community-specific updates directly to residents’ families, and you can also find companywide updates on Sunrise’s response to COVID-19 at SunrisePrepared.com. Please be assured that the health and safety of our residents and team members remain our number one priority.