Helping seniors stay in touch with family and friends during the COVID-19 crisis can be a challenge. After all, seniors citizens need to be careful about who they come into contact with, so in-person visits have not been recommended.

But not seeing family and friends is taking a toll on residents, said Jenna Mireles.

Which is why Mireles is on a campaign to raise money to provide residents of The Meadows with a Facebook Portal that will allow them to easily communicate with loved ones.

The devices allow residents to see and talk to family and friends, said Mireles, The Meadows’ life enrichment director. Because they are voice activated, residents just have to say “Hey, portal, call ...” and then say the name of the person they want to call.

The device works through Facebook Messenger.

“Some residents in independent living who have them really enjoy them,” she said.

In nursing homes and assisted living facilities around the country, restrictions on visitation went into place last spring, when the pandemic began. Although some local and area facilities have relaxed their policies from time to time, those policies have to be adjusted as situations change.

While residents at The Meadows can have some visitors, the visits are infrequent. With the Facebook Portal, residents can talk to friends and family whenever it’s convenient.

Even after COVID-19 ends, residents can continue to use the portals to communicate with loved ones, especially those who live out of state or out of the country, Mireles said.

For now, Mireles is trying to raise enough money to buy a portal for residents in independent and assisted living. Once she reaches that goal, she’d like to raise funds to provide a portal for residents of other long-term care facilities.

To help the process, Mireles has set up a GoFundMe account under portals for seniors. Donations also may be sent to The Meadows, 500 S. 18th St., Norfolk, NE 68701, attention Jenna Mireles. For information, call Mireles at 402-371-1730.

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