Posted: March 24, 2020
To stop the spread of coronavirus, health officials have instructed the public to practice social distancing, which means staying home, avoiding crowds, and keeping your distance—at least 6 feet—from others. Many people who have been self-quarantined for the past week feel lonely and frightened, although they know their isolation is for the greater good.
Senior living communities, if managed properly, can provide significant advantages to residents and their families with strong prevention protocols, access to medical monitoring, and safe socialization.
The clinical teams that are part of our senior living communities receive daily briefings from government and health professionals and are able to keep residents informed with accurate, up-to-date information. These teams can adapt that information into evolving protocols and procedures, and provide immediate training to all team members. Residents can rest assured knowing they are receiving the best care available to keep older adults protected.
Highly trained and experienced team members know the protocols for preventing viruses, and they are equipped with proper protective gear and the appropriate disinfectants for even tough viruses like Norovirus.
Although communal dining is not available given CDC guidelines for social distancing, our senior living community is still providing nutritious meals for our residents. Many older people rely on restaurants to eat and don’t cook for themselves. With the current closure of restaurants and empty shelves at many grocery stores because of panicked hoarding, elders may struggle to get the nutrition they need when they live alone. In our communities, we continue to provide high-quality meals delivered directly to resident apartments to help keep bodies healthy.
Our dedicated staff is an extension of our residents’ families. After following all proper infection control and safety protocols, team members continue to show up daily in resident apartments and suites, providing care as well as much-needed human interaction.
Recently, teams got creative keeping residents busy and cheerful with activities like daily brain games, hallway bingo, SingFit music, and happy hours. Rather than the usual pub crawl for St. Patrick’s Day, a group of residents enjoyed Rueben sandwiches and trivia while a cart that went room to room with beer flights to commemorate the occasion instead.
Residents love the friendly faces of our staff and appreciate the enrichment these interactions provide.
Research has shown that loneliness and social isolation can be damaging to our health. Social distancing has made technology more valuable than ever before, but the reality is that many older adults don’t have the latest devices in their homes to communicate with loved ones during self-quarantine.
Our communities are equipped with technology to help residents stay connected with their family and friends. We are utilizing a variety of video platforms, including Facetime and Skype, so that residents can have meaningful dialogue with family and friends and still see their children and grandchildren. This helps ensure residents don’t miss important milestones during this time of isolation.
Even with proper social distancing, all senior are at risk for COVID-19. In a community, residents have immediate access to trained medical professionals. They are monitored on a daily basis and when illness occurs, it can be more quickly treated. Those same professionals are also educated when it comes to taking extensive steps to prevent illness from spreading to other residents.
This is a far less lonely time for our residents than it is for other seniors—especially those who live alone. Not only are there more opportunities for fun and safe socializing, but our residents have access to better nutrition, medical care, and supplies. As COVID-19 continues to test the bonds that connect us all, our residents can benefit from the advantages of community living.