Humans need connection and interaction to thrive. This fact remains true throughout our lives, but seniors—especially seniors in hospice care—often struggle with loneliness and isolation. That’s why many senior care facilities and programs emphasize social health alongside physical and mental health. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible in the face of intensive hospice care. How do care providers help their patients maintain beloved relationships and build new connections in the midst of their treatments? Start with these suggestions in our guide on how to avoid social isolation in hospice.
Encourage Family Visits
Few things beat the experience of gathering with your loved ones. Family visits aren’t always possible or easy for patients in hospice care, but they’re nonetheless invaluable. You can help your patients and their families make the most of visits by scheduling ideal times and preparing both sides for what to expect. Help educate families on tips for visiting hospice patients. When you prepare visitors to see their loved one’s condition, they will have an easier time adjusting to the situation and creating a comfortable visit for everyone.
Connect Through Calls
Even when physical visits aren’t possible, technology allows us to connect with loved ones and find new ways to avoid social isolation in hospice. Hospice care providers can and should encourage phone calls between their patients and family members. Work to set up a time that feels comfortable for your patient and doesn’t interfere with treatments, naps, and other parts of the daily routine. Nurses, aides, or trained volunteers can also help patients set up video call software on their phones or computers, making it easy for patients to see loved ones even when they can’t visit.
Bring Activities Along
Home aides and volunteers who spend a lot of time with hospice patients play a significant role in combatting feelings of loneliness. Simple conversation and a reassuring physical presence can go a long way. However, you can also mix things up by bringing along activities, entertainment, and other ways to pass the time. Find ways to appeal to your patient’s interests, such as a new book, a puzzle you can work on together, or craft supplies. While a patient won’t always feel up to a lot of activity, the opportunity for enrichment is invaluable on days when restlessness and loneliness set in.