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Connecting with Family While Social Distancing

As the doors to our facilities momentarily closed to visitors, communicating with loved ones in assisted living, retirement homes and nursing homes has become more difficult.

At Notre Dame Health System, we realize that this situation is upsetting for all, and the wellbeing of our residents is our greatest concern. So, we have enabled staff members to use smart phones to help our residents and patients video chat with family members through FaceTime.

Here are a few ways you can communicate or send extra love to family and friends, whether they are in one of our residential communities or isolated in their own homes, while practicing social distancing.

Set Up Video Chat

Setting up time to video chat with an elderly loved one is a great way to see them and hear their voices while catching up. For anyone with access to an Apple product such as an iPad, iPod, iPhone or MacBook, FaceTime is an easy tool to use. Here are steps to follow if you need assistance setting it up:

  1. Open the Facetime app, then tap the Contacts button in the bottom-right corner. You will see a list of your contacts.
  2. Select the person you would like to call.
  3. Tap the FaceTime button. It looks like a Video Camera and can be found under the contacts name.
  4. Once the person accepts the call, a large window shows the contact’s video and a small window shows your video. When you finish talking, just press End.

Make FaceTime Easier for Seniors

There are also many other apps, particularly when not using Apple devices. You can video chat with Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or Skype. Both you and the person you want to chat with will need to download the apps, which are available in the Apple App Store (iTunes) or Google Play Store. Many apps follow the same steps as listed for FaceTime if any assistance is needed.

Go the Old-fashioned Route—Send a Letter

There are few things that warm the heart more than getting a letter or card from someone you love. Take the time to write a recap of your week or day and pass it along to your family or friends. Don’t forget to include pictures of the grandchildren or maybe a drawing they’ve made. It’s the little things that make hard times like these a bit more manageable. If you’re feeling up for it, write a few extra letters for staff, roommates or other residents in the facility with your loved one.

Send Videos

We all know that some moments are better seen. Sending videos via email or text is a great way to keep your loved one updated on what’s happening in your life. Maybe their grandchild is learning to walk, or you simply want them to have a video to watch repeatedly whenever they are feeling lonesome. A short video is a great way to show extra love.

Write an Email

Emails keep family members up to date on everything going on in your day. It’s also easy to share funny videos, stories or photos that can brighten their day as well. If your loved one does not have access to a smart phone or other device, communicate with the staff about ways to get the message to them.

Send a Text Message

Texting is an instant way to stay in touch residents who have access to their own cell phones. If unlimited text messages are not included in their phone plan, WhatsApp uses Wi-Fi for sending text messages without incurring charges.

Join or Set Up a Facebook Group

There is a Facebook group for just about anything. Consider creating a Facebook group for your family to specifically sharing news with your elderly loved ones and to communicate among yourselves. Post funny pictures or videos that make them laugh; send a post for them to read or ask a staff member to read it to them.

Now more than ever, all of us need to feel a connection with those we love.

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