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How Do You Stay Connected With Nursing Home Residents During COVID-19? Try Visiting Through A Window

Fresno State
Dr. Helen Miltiades is head of Fresno State's Gerontology Program. She says while social distancing is important to keep older adults safe, so is staying in touch, even if it means getting creative.

Nursing facilities have been hit hard by coronavirus outbreaks, and have changed visitor policies to reduce the spread of the disease. So how can older adults still maintain social connections? 

Helen Miltiades, director of Fresno State’s Gerontology Program, says families are visiting their older relatives at nursing homes by standing outside and waving at them through the safety of a window. 

Nursing home staff will take residents “to a special room where there is a huge window, and they have a set time where the family members can be on the outside, and they can see each other through that window,” said Miltiades. While the concept might seem strange, Miltiades said it can be reassuring.

Miltiades added, elders are feeling cooped up and missing friends. It’s something nursing facilities are dealing with on a large scale. 


“How do you keep people active, especially when you have to have social distancing, especially when the regulations are, ‘You really shouldn’t come out of your room’?” Miltiades said. 

Miltiades suggested people take the time to reach out to anyone they know who’s older and isolated. 

Governor Gavin Newsom also announced an expansion of Friendship Line California, a number older adults can call to get emotional support. The Friendship Line number is 1-888-670-1360.

Laura Tsutsui was a reporter and producer for Valley Public Radio. She joined the station in 2017 as a news intern, and later worked as a production assistant and weekend host. Laura covered local issues ranging from politics to housing, and produced the weekly news program Valley Edition. She left the station in November 2020.
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