Nursing home residents often struggle with loneliness and, at times, with isolation, both of which have negative consequences for emotional and physical health. With current restrictions in place at nursing facilities to protect residents from exposure to COVID-19, the risk of isolation amongst this population is growing. Psychologist Lisa Brown, Ph.D., ABPP, Professor of Psychology at Palo Alto University, states, “Being separated from someone you love goes beyond isolation; it’s a loss of something that can’t be substituted…the loss of connection is pretty profound.” She suggests that nursing and clinical staff brainstorm with clients and their loved ones to find creative ways to connect. The boredom and loneliness currently experienced by many nursing facilities may be mitigated by a mix of variety and consistent contact with others.
In several facilities that we service, we have learned of creative approaches to connect residents with loved ones, including exchanging letters and photographs by mail, frequent phone check-ins, video conferencing, and in-person visits behind the safety of a windowpane. On behalf of some facilities, efforts have also included group activities allowing patients to engage in exercise, games, and guided crafts projects from the doorways of their rooms in line with recommendations for social distancing. We have come across an interesting project is a volunteer group collecting letters, drawings, and small tokens from the community to be mailed to nursing home residents (lovefortheelderly.org/letters). Some childcare centers and schools contribute to such acts of kindness by calling and sending letters and drawings to residents.
In these efforts to bring happiness and connection to our seniors, we can find signs of hope. Healthcare workers, mental health providers, community members, and our youth are taking steps to connect with our seniors and send comfort and care messages. Let’s be proactive in ensuring our seniors continue to receive the care and support that they deserve! Now more than ever, the need for additional emotional help and support is evident.
Please consider referring residents exhibiting signs of loneliness, anxiety, or depression in response to the current pandemic to MediTelecare for behavioral health treatment. Our licensed providers can offer therapeutic strategies to help build up coping skills and improve a sense of connection and belonging.
Would love to hear about how your facility is stepping outside of the box to provide additional supports during these unprecedented times!
MediTelecare is here to help staff and residents with any behavioral healthcare needs, please reach out to us with any questions or requests below:
General or Operational Inquiries, please contact:
Vice President of Strategic Partnerships & Customer Experience
For Questions Regarding StaffCare and Clinical Inquiries, please contact:
Dr. Sherie L. Friedrich, PsyD
Chief Psychology Officer