Best ways to help lonely loved ones in long-term care homes

In the silent corridors of long-term care (LTC) homes, where the pandemic has heightened the veil of loneliness and isolation, family members and friends stand at the threshold, seeking ways to reconnect with their loved ones. Here’s how you can help lonely loved ones in long-term care homes, according to PhD candidate and frontline LTC worker Victoria Atabakhsh.

Window Visits: A Glimpse of Love

Even if physical connection is restricted, window visits offer a warm and safe way to stay connected. These visits can turn an ordinary day into an extraordinary one, allowing you to convey love and support through smiles, signs, and gestures. It’s a visual affirmation of your presence in their lives, a beacon of hope and joy amidst the solitude.

The Echo of Familiar Faces

In the quiet of their rooms, old family photos can become treasures, sparking old memories and sweet stories. They serve as a bridge to the past, to cherished moments and loved ones. These photos not only decorate their space with familiar faces but also bring comfort and a sense of belonging, reminding them of the love that surrounds them, even from afar.

Handwritten Letters

There’s something inherently personal and touching about receiving a handwritten letter. In a world dominated by quick online messaging, taking the time to write to your loved one can have a profound impact. 

Tokens of Love

These letters are tangible tokens of love, carrying words of encouragement, resilience, and hope. The best part? They’re often read and re-read, providing comfort and a sense of closeness that digital messages sometimes lack.

Personalize Their Entertainment

Imagine the sparkle in your loved one’s eyes when they hear their favorite song or watch a beloved movie. Engaging with the LTC home’s recreational therapist opens a gateway to personalized entertainment, catering to the individual tastes and preferences of residents. 

Windows to the World

This act of kindness is about bringing a piece of the outside world, their world, into the confines of their current reality. This not only combats boredom but also serves as a reminder of the joys and interests that define who they are.

Engage Through Social Media 

In today’s digital age, social media and other online platforms present an invaluable opportunity to keep our loved ones involved in our daily lives. Teaching them or assisting them in navigating platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or even a family WhatsApp group can make a world of difference. 

Making Loved Ones Engaged

It’s about more than just sharing photos and updates; it’s about creating a sense of participation in each other’s lives despite the physical barriers. 

Keeping the Conversation Going

With many LTC homes equipped with communal phones, scheduling regular calls can significantly uplift the spirits of residents. It’s a reminder that they are not forgotten, that their voices are eagerly awaited on the other end of the line. 

A Simple Call, A World of Difference

Whether it’s sharing daily occurrences or reminiscing about past adventures, each conversation is a lifeline, reinforcing the bonds of love and family.

Safe Visits: The Essential Connection

For those designated as essential family caregivers, your presence is invaluable. Donning personal protective equipment (PPE) and adhering to safety protocols, your visits can bring a sense of normalcy and immense joy to your loved one’s routine. It’s a poignant reminder of the strength of your bond, offering comfort and reassurance during uncertain times.

Thoughtful Gestures

Small gestures can have a big impact. Dropping off your loved one’s favorite snacks or personal items adds a touch of normalcy and pleasure to their day. Similarly, providing engaging activities like puzzles or coloring books can stimulate their minds and occupy their time meaningfully. 

These actions speak volumes, showing your care and attention to their well-being.

Tech Tools for Connection

The digital age offers a lifeline in bridging the physical divide. Donating an unused smartphone, tablet, or any digital device can revolutionize how residents interact with the world and their families. 

The Joy of Life’s Little Moments

These devices become windows to endless conversations, video chats, and even virtual family gatherings. It’s a way to ensure that, despite the distance, your loved one never misses out on life’s little moments, from the grandchild’s first steps to the family’s holiday celebrations.

Foster Connections with Staff and Residents

Building a rapport with the care staff and encouraging friendships with fellow residents can significantly enrich your loved one’s social environment. Caregivers, nurses, and other staff members play a crucial role in the daily lives of LTC residents. 

Family and Staff as One

By fostering a positive relationship with the staff, you can ensure that your loved one receives not just the physical care they need but also the emotional support that is so vital during these times. 


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