Porch Visits in a Pandemic: Lessons Learned at the Feet of the Elderly

Porch Visit in a Pandemic

At corecubed, we’re not just your aging care marketing partner; we share your passion for changing the face of aging, for honoring our elders, and for striving to enhance quality of life for those who have spent a lifetime enhancing ours. Of course, this is easier said than done on a typical day in a typical world, but throw in a global pandemic that’s especially threatening to older adults, and the challenge can seem unsurmountable.

Our Senior Writer, Jennifer Logullo, explains that losing both of her parents during the pandemic within 12 days of each other, and being unable to be with them in their final weeks of life and passing, created a sense of helplessness unlike anything she had ever experienced. And her story isn’t unique; with nearly 200,000 Americans to date having lost their battle with the virus, and all of us having lost a sense of normalcy and freedom, it’s become important to discover creative ways to safely help each other through these tumultuous times.

One of many ways to accomplish this is through simple porch visits, as we know that being outside is safer than visiting indoors, and there’s ample room to ensure social distancing. Here’s what she has learned in a rocking chair, six safe feet away from her elders:

  1. Communication is HARD. Speaking to a senior who already struggles with even a mild hearing deficit – now wearing a mask, six feet away, with traffic and birds and crickets and cicadas added to the mix – is frustrating. The older person can’t even see your smile or facial expressions to help with making an emotional connection. Perhaps the best solution is to focus on listening to the senior, nodding and using hand gestures, and allowing for comfortable silence to watch the world around you together. There’s great peace to be found in the simple sound of two rocking chairs creaking together in tandem, reminding the senior he or she is not alone.
  2. Stick to safety guidelines. The senior’s mask will likely slip down, or he or she will want to pull it off, or to scoot your chairs closer together to be able to talk more easily. And honestly, it’s tempting to want to do the same! Yet it’s crucial to remain vigilant in protecting the older person by kindly but firmly insisting on keeping protective measures in place.
  3. Engage in an activity together – but apart. A simple but companionable activity, like winding yarn into a ball, shelling peas, coloring, painting, drawing, etc. is a great way to pass the time together and to foster enjoyment and a sense of both connection and accomplishment. A little advance planning before the visit, to ensure you and the senior both have your own separate supplies, serves as an added level of protection for the senior.
  4. Think through how the visit will end. Porch visits starkly reveal just how lonely, isolated, and afraid seniors have become through the pandemic, and how desperately they crave the companionship of others. Understandably, it’s likely that ending the visit will be challenging. It helps to suggest the next day to meet as you’re preparing to leave, and an activity you can do together then. And as hard as it is, avoid a good-bye hug, perhaps crossing your arms across your chest to indicate a virtual hug.

As a professional home care provider, your team is experiencing the heartbreaking reality of the pandemic on older adults on a daily basis. The work you’re doing is unmatched in its impact on our society’s most vulnerable, and we are so humbled to share the journey with you by helping you craft the messages, stories, and professional design that showcase the incredible service you’re providing to those in need, as well as SEO and PPC services to ensure your agency can be found online when a care need arises. Contact us any time at 800.370.6580, x1, to let us know how we can help.