Fostering Connections with Loved Ones in Assisted Living

The holiday season is a time for gathering with loved ones, sharing laughter, and creating cherished memories. However, when a family member resides in assisted living, distance can make it challenging to maintain these meaningful connections during the holidays. The good news is that in today’s digital age, there are numerous ways to foster connections and celebrate virtually with your loved one in assisted living. In this article, we’ll explore strategies and heartwarming stories on how to organize virtual celebrations and stay connected with family and friends, ensuring that the spirit of togetherness is alive and well, even when you’re physically apart.

1. Set Up Regular Video Calls

Video calls are a powerful way to bridge the gap and maintain a sense of closeness with your loved one in assisted living. Platforms like Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime allow you to see and hear each other in real-time. Here are some tips for making the most of video calls:

  • Schedule Regular Calls: Set a schedule for weekly or bi-weekly video calls. Consistency helps create a sense of routine and anticipation.
  • Prepare Activities: Plan activities for the call, such as storytelling, virtual game nights, or even cooking together from a distance.
  • Involve Family and Friends: Encourage other family members and friends to join the calls. It’s a great way for your loved one to stay connected with a broader support network.
  • Special Occasion Calls: On holidays and birthdays, make the video call extra special with decorations, themed outfits, and festive backgrounds.

2. Organize Virtual Celebrations

While physical gatherings may be limited, you can still create memorable virtual celebrations for your loved one in assisted living. Here are some ideas:

  • Virtual Holiday Dinner: Coordinate with family members to have a virtual holiday dinner where everyone enjoys their meal together while on a video call.
  • Virtual Gift Exchange: Organize a virtual gift exchange, where family members send gifts in advance and open them together on a video call.
  • Holiday Talent Show: Encourage family members to showcase their talents virtually, whether it’s singing, dancing, or telling jokes.
  • Storytelling Time: Dedicate time for storytelling, where family members share their favorite holiday memories or traditions.

3. Share Digital Memory Keepsakes

Digital memory keepsakes can help your loved one feel connected and cherished during the holidays. Here are some ideas:

  • Digital Photo Albums: Create digital photo albums that can be shared online, allowing your loved one to browse through cherished memories.
  • Digital Journals: Use online journaling platforms or email to exchange written messages and daily updates.
  • Video Messages: Record video messages from family members and friends, sharing holiday greetings and well-wishes.
  • Virtual Family Cookbook: Compile a virtual family cookbook with everyone’s favorite holiday recipes, complete with stories and photos.

4. Explore Virtual Activities

Engaging in virtual activities can provide your loved one in assisted living with a sense of purpose and connection. Here are some virtual activities to consider:

  • Online Classes: Enroll them in virtual classes or workshops that align with their interests, whether it’s art, music, or exercise.
  • Virtual Tours: Explore museums, historic sites, or travel destinations together through virtual tours available online.
  • Online Support Groups: Connect with online support groups or communities that focus on their specific needs or interests.
  • Virtual Bingo or Trivia: Many assisted living facilities organize virtual bingo or trivia games, allowing residents to socialize and have fun.

5. Send Care Packages

Sending care packages is a tangible way to show your love and care, even when you can’t be there in person. Customize the packages with items that bring comfort and joy:

  • Personalized Letters: Include handwritten letters or cards from family members and friends, expressing love and warm wishes.
  • Favorite Snacks: Pack their favorite snacks, candies, or treats that remind them of home.
  • Cozy Comfort Items: Consider sending a cozy blanket, soft socks, or a warm scarf to provide comfort during the holidays.
  • Entertainment: Include books, puzzles, or magazines to keep them engaged and entertained.
  • Festive Decorations: Add a touch of holiday spirit with small decorations, ornaments, or a miniature Christmas tree.

6. Plan Virtual Outings

If your loved one is physically able, consider planning virtual outings or experiences that they can enjoy from the comfort of their assisted living space:

  • Virtual Zoo or Aquarium Tours: Many zoos and aquariums offer live streams or virtual tours, allowing your loved one to explore wildlife.
  • Online Theater Performances: Enjoy theater performances, concerts, or dance recitals through online streaming services.
  • Online Shopping: Shop together online for holiday gifts, decorations, or anything else they may need or want.
  • Virtual Travel Planning: Plan future trips together, exploring destinations, accommodations, and activities online.

7. Encourage Handmade Gifts

Handmade gifts can be incredibly meaningful and personal. Encourage family members, especially children, to create handmade gifts or artwork to send to your loved one:

  • Handmade Cards: Craft cards with drawings, paintings, or heartfelt messages.
  • Homemade Ornaments: Create ornaments that can be displayed in their living space or on a small holiday tree.
  • Artwork or Crafts: Share handmade artwork, crafts, or even a scrapbook filled with family memories.
  • Recorded Messages: Record audio messages or video clips where family members share their love and holiday wishes.

8. Stay Connected Through Phone Calls and Messaging

While video calls offer a richer experience, don’t underestimate the power of regular phone calls and messaging:

  • Daily Check-Ins: Make it a habit to call or send a quick message to check in on your loved one and provide emotional support.
  • Text Messaging: Exchange daily texts or send voice messages, sharing updates, jokes, or stories.
  • Voicemail Recordings: Leave heartfelt voicemail messages with words of encouragement and love.
  • Video Messages: Occasionally send short video messages, so they can see your face and hear your voice.

Celebrating virtually with loved ones in assisted living during the holidays is all about finding creative ways to foster connections and create meaningful moments. By setting up regular video calls, organizing virtual celebrations, sharing digital memory keepsakes, exploring virtual activities, sending care packages, planning virtual outings, encouraging handmade gifts, and staying connected through phone calls and messaging, you can ensure that your loved one feels loved and connected, no matter the physical distance. Remember that the holidays are about togetherness, love, and making cherished memories, and with these strategies, you can keep those traditions alive.

Contact us here with questions about Generations’ memory care options. Book a tour at a Generations Community near you.