Disclaimer: At UPMC HealthBeat, we strive to provide the most up-to-date facts in our stories when we publish them. We also make updates to our content as information changes. However, education about COVID-19 can shift quickly based on new data, emerging variants, or other factors. The information in this story was accurate as of its publish date. We also encourage you to visit other reliable websites for updated information, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and your state and local governments.
The global pandemic COVID-19 has caused a change in day-to-day life in the United States as people attempt to prevent the spread of the disease.
Schools have canceled in-person classes, sports leagues have canceled games, and restaurants and other businesses have temporarily closed or limited their operations. Many people are working from home. And social distancing efforts are keeping people away from large crowds.
Many hospitals have put visitor restrictions in place to protect the safety of patients and staff and to prevent the spread of illness.
Although restrictions can make it difficult to see a hospitalized loved one in person, there are ways you can still keep in touch with them.
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Communicating With Loved Ones During COVID-19
You might not be able to see a hospitalized loved one in person. But that doesn’t mean you can’t talk to them.
More people are turning to technology to stay in touch with their loved ones during COVID-19. That practice may be especially important to show support to people currently in the hospital.
To support a hospitalized loved one during restricted visitation, you can:
- Make sure your loved one has a device (i.e., smartphone or tablet) and charger.
- Call or video chat your loved one regularly, especially at mealtimes or before bed. Include other family members and friends in these talks.
- Remind your loved one to use online resources, such as those listed below, to stay active and engaged. Then, you can talk about what they’ve done or learned during your calls or video chats.
- Help your loved one develop a bedtime routine. Examples include listening to music, relaxation techniques, or drinking herbal tea or warm milk.
If you need more tips, talk to nurses or other staff for ideas.
Resources for Patients Hospitalized During COVID-19 Pandemic
There are many online resources that might keep your mind active if you or your loved one is hospitalized and the facility is restricting visitors because of COVID-19.
From virtual tours to online learning, here are some resources you can use via a computer, smartphone, or tablet:
- Movies, TV, and videos: You can watch videos on YouTube or movies on Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, or many other online sources. Many of them require a monthly charge but also may have free trials available.
- Museums: Many museums are offering virtual tours. The Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh’s online resources include a gallery of art from the Carnegie Museum of Art’s collection.
- Music and podcasts: Many different apps or websites allow you to create your own stations or playlists for music or listen to podcasts. Those include Amazon Music Unlimited, Apple Music, Google Play, Pandora, Spotify, Stitcher, Tidal, and TuneIn.
- Online learning: You can learn something new by taking online courses from resources like Open Culture, Coursera, or EdX. Senior Academy fosters connections among western Pennsylvania seniors. Skillshare offers opportunities to explore your creativity.
- Read: Membership with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh offers access to ebooks, audiobooks, videos, music, and more. You also can connect your library account to apps like Libby and Hoopla.
- Theaters: Whether it’s music, theater, or another art that interests you, many cultural organizations have online resources. Pittsburgh Public Theater offers PlayTime, online readings of classic plays, at 7 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays. The Metropolitan Opera has nightly encore shows. LA Theatre Works has recordings of more than 500 plays. The Kennedy Center Digital Stage features recorded performances from a wide variety of artists.
- Think about what matters: Schaalman Senior Voices Film Library includes inspiring films that aim to strengthen the wellbeing of older adults and their communities.
- Wellness and mental health: The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has reviewed apps for mental health, wellness, meditation, and more. You can access those and more.
- Zoos: Many zoos are offering webcams of some of their animals. The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium has cheetah and penguin webcams, plus a podcast, educational videos, and more. The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden offers a Home Safari Facebook Live with one of its animals at 3 p.m. daily. The San Diego Zoo has several animal cameras.
Online resources are provided for informational purposes only. UPMC has no affiliation with and does not endorse any of the companies or organizations listed.
Anyone with access to a computer, smartphone, or tablet and the Internet can access these sources. If you have a loved one in the hospital, watching the same TV show could give you something to talk about during one of your calls. Or, if you’re social distancing at home, it could be a bonding experience with friends or family – whether they’re with you or not.
Headquartered in Pittsburgh, UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider and insurer. We operate 40 hospitals and 800 doctors’ offices and outpatient centers, with locations throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, West Virginia, and internationally. We employ 4,900 physicians, and we are leaders in clinical care, groundbreaking research, and treatment breakthroughs. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside as one of the nation’s best hospitals in many specialties and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. We are dedicated to providing Life Changing Medicine to our communities.