Communicating Between Visits With a Parent in Assisted Living
Ideally you are able to visit with your parent in an assisted living community in person with regularity. In the alternative, its beneficial all around if you are able to have your parent spend time at your home or involved in other types of activities away from an assisted living community.
If you live at a distance, there are understandable limitations on the frequency of your personal interactions with your parent in an assisted living community. In fact, even if you live nearby, there will be times between visits.
There are some helpful considerations to bear in mind when it comes to communicating and staying connected with your parent in assisted living between times when you are personally together. We discuss some of these strategies that can be invaluable in maintaining solid contact with your parent during times together in-person:
- Telephone calls
- Traditional cards and letters
- Video chats
Depending on the age of your parent and where he or she grew up as a child, the telephone in the home was amazing technology when your mother or father was a youngster. The telephone was a staple of communication through much of your parent’s life. Even though new technologies and advancements in mobile phone communications have occurred, the traditional phone call on a standard phone may still be at the heart of your parent’s communications regimen.
Regular phone calls with your parent are a great way to stay in contact when your mother or father resides in assisted living. You might consider having a scheduled time every few days for a lengthier phone conversation with your parent. Between those calls, you can have quicker check-ins on the phone throughout any given week.
Texting may not be something that your elderly parent has used with regularity. Moreover, depending on the type of mobile phone your parent owns, texting can prove a bit more difficult for an older individual. Nonetheless, texting can be a way of at least supplementing your communication with you parent.
If your parent is proficient at texting, this might prove to be a more significant line of regular communication with your mother or father. If that is not the case, you can still make use of texting to let your parent know you are thinking about him or her. For example, at the beginning of the day or at the end of the day, you can text your mother or father a simple message that makes it clear you are thinking about your parent. You can have a mutual understanding that your parent doesn’t need to respond to the text (and if your mother or father needs anything, he or she can respond by calling you as needed).
Traditional Cards and Letters
Yes – traditional cards and letters delivered via United States mail can be important ways in which you can keep in contact with your mother or father living in assisted living between visits. If you are like many people, “old-fashioned” letters have largely gone by the wayside. But you need to bear in mind that cards and letters were a primary and very important means of communication for your aging parent throughout most of his or her life.
You don’t need to write lengthy letters to your parent (because it is presumed you will be visiting with your mother and father in other ways). You can do something as simple as send your mother or father a card once week or something along those lines. Not only will your parent recognize he or she is in your thoughts, but your mother or father will have something to share with fellow residents if so inclined. Cards can brighten up your parent’s living space.
The use of email to communicate with your mother or father in an assisted living community is another solid plan of action. As with some other communication methods mentioned in this article, you do need to be cognizant of your parent’s technological prowess. If you parent has not been a regular user of email, he or she may need a bit of training in that regard.
In this day and age – particularly since the quarantine months of the COVID-19 pandemic – people from all walks of life have started to utilize video chat technology with increasing frequency. Of course, this is being used in work and business settings. However, video chats now are also widely used by families and friends to stay connected.
Video chats can provide another meaningful way in which you can stay connected with your mother or father in assisted living between in-person visits. Of course, you need to bear in mind that your parent might initially be reluctant to use this technology, perhaps feeling a bit intimidated by it. You will need to make certain that you or perhaps another member of your family skilled at video conferencing takes the time to instruct your parent on how the technology works.
Video chats are not only ideal ways in which you personally can stay connected with your parent in assisted living, but you can have family gatherings on Zoom or Facetime as well. While nothing takes the place of a face to face visit with a loved one, video conferencing comes as close as anything else.
By maintaining consistent communication with your mother or father between in-person visits, you enhance the quality of life for your parent. Moreover, you enhance your own quality of life as well.