Human beings are social creatures. Similar to animals, we live in family groups for much of our lives and tend to seek out companionship. For the most part, we also seem to find comfort in human contact during stressful or difficult times. If the findings of a recent survey are any indication, this instinct or need to be together persists throughout our lives.

Let us share a bit more information here. In the 2019 survey of people with loved ones in nursing homes, nearly 55 percent said they do not spend enough time visiting. Those who felt this way visit their loved ones four times per month, and devote less than two hours to each visit. By contrast, participants who said they spend enough time visiting their loved ones did so more often. They also devoted more time to each visit.

Now, with the Coronavirus Pandemic prompting skilled nursing homes across our state to halt visitation, residents cannot see their loved ones in person at all. We all worry about not only how our loved ones are being cared for, but also want to ensure that they do not feel increased isolation or depression. Let us share some simple tips to keep in touch and ease your fears during this time.

1. Send photographs and small gifts. Start by checking with staff to see if it is okay to send your loved one a care package. If you can, send a homemade card along with a few of his or her favorite things. Depending on his or her preferences, consider sending paperback books, music, snacks, puzzles or games. Exchanging photographs is another easy way to stay connected while visits are prohibited. If they have not done so already, ask the nursing home staff about starting a program to facilitate this activity. That way, your loved one could send photos to you, and you could take photos to send to them.

2. Use technology to facilitate communication. If your loved one has access to email, feel free to communicate that way. You may also want to ask if your loved one can have access to video conferencing services such as FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype. If not, there is nothing wrong with making routine telephone calls or sending letters.

3. Get the information you need as well. Do not hesitate to request regular updates from facility staff, including administrators. This may alleviate any fear or concerns you have about your loved one’s well being. You can also request information about any protocols implemented to promote staff and patient safety.

In the meantime, we are here to address any legal concerns you may have about visitation. Simply contact our law firm to arrange a telephone consultation with attorney Scott Selis at your convenience.