Many of my residents have family members that live miles and miles away. Not everyone gets a visit for the holidays. And I know those who can’t visit might be overwhelmed with their own guilt. But there are a few things you can do that are just as valuable and personal as stopping by.

  1. Phone calls and video chats

Residents often have their own cell phones or private phone lines installed that they use to connect with their family. And while I think this is a great idea, I also know that some long-distance caregivers need help caring for themselves. Giving your parent 24-hour access to you through a phone can be draining. Be sure that you create a plan for how to handle frequent calls and discussing your boundaries with your loved ones.

And go beyond a phone call. Research the technology that can help close the distance. Scheduling a routine time to chat through FaceTime, Skype, GoToMeeting or Google Hangouts makes your chats more personal. And it gives you the added benefit of being able to spot any changes in their appearance.

  1. Write letters

Letters take thought and time—which is why they’re an incredible way to keep in contact with your loved ones. A simple card can decorate their room, and the words you write will give them something to cherish. Even sending them a newspaper clipping of something they’d like is a great way to show you’re always thinking about them.

  1. Pick up a phone book

This “old-school” trick is more helpful than you might think. Having a copy of the phone book local to your family’s nursing facility will give you the service listings of everyone in the area. You’ll be able to spot local florists or bakeries that can drop off surprises to the people you love. It’s an easier way to see all of your service options rather than hunting through Google, which customizes your search results based on your location.

  1. Be visible when you visit

When you do get the time to visit, truly take the time to be part of their day. Bring a rental movie to watch, or their favorite board game. Stick around and help out with dinner, or even spend time with other residents who may feel lonely. The point is to join in the community your parents are now a part of. Don’t fuss or try to take over their care, relax and spend genuine time with the ones you love.

Have your own way of connecting with the ones you love, even from a distance? Leave a comment and let me know.

Author's Bio: 

Ephraim Zagelbaum is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Personal Healthcare, a company providing services in the in the healthcare sector. Zagelbaum began his career in 2003 as an Administrator of Windsor Park Nursing Home in Queens Village, New York. He excelled quickly and purchased his first nursing home just 5 years later in 2008. Since then Zagelbaum has been responsible for creating the vision and providing the strategic leadership of Personal Healthcare as it continues to increase resident care outcomes and overall facility performance on an ongoing and steady basis.

More info about Zagelbaum is available at his Educause profile. He can be reached @Twitter.