Creating New Rituals During COVID-19 Restrictions

The COVID-19 pandemic continues with no obvious end in sight. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provides information and updates on the Coronavirus disease. States are lifting restrictions, allowing for life to feel more normal, a term that has taken on a new meaning. The current normal involves different rituals and ways to interact with our community and, especially, our loved ones in the long-term care.

Wearing masks in public, washing our hands for at least 20 seconds, and staying at home are now more commonplace. While these measures are a part of our current daily life, other changes are much more inconvenient and harder to adjust to. With long-term care communities under lockdown, families are unable to be fully present with a loved one living in a quarantined community. Mother’s Day this year took on a different form with the ritual of being with mothers, grandmothers, and family having been reshaped out of necessity and precaution.

With restrictions in place, caregivers have come up with creative ways to connect and maintain social bonds with family members living in nursing homes and other long-term care communities. News stories like this one demonstrate how family members are staying in touch and how community care partners are responding. New ways of staying in touch include FaceTime calls and visiting through a family member’s room window. Long-term care communities have created new activities to maintain social interactions between residents.

It is hard missing out on visiting with family, sharing meals and memories, and being unable to communicate through touch. Both family members and care partners are creating new rituals to connect with residents in communities. Some ways to connect with family members in the long-term care setting can include sending a link to a favorite song via email, sending an electronic card, and sharing photo albums by FaceTime or Zoom calls. AARP provides additional ideas additional ideasto help keep family members and residents connected

No matter how you stay connected with your loved one, it is important to remember you are doing all you can do. We are in strange times that call for alternative measures. By maintaining connections you are providing support and care for both family members and their formal care partners. Even new rituals can help maintain lifelong bonds during these unprecedented times.

Kathy Dreyer, Ph.D., is the Director of Strategic Projects at AGE-u-cate® Training Institute, which develops and delivers innovative research-based aging and dementia training programs such as Dementia Live® and Compassionate Touch®, for professional and family caregivers; kathy.dreyer@ageucate.com

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