The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly difficult on older adults. While contracting the virus itself is tough for seniors, there are other challenges older adults face as a result of the crisis. Chief among them is isolation.
Because physically distancing from others is necessary to stay safe, some seniors who live alone have gone months without in-person visits from friends and family. That separation can worsen the fear and anxiety created by this worldwide health emergency.
Even before the coronavirus changed people’s lives, researchers were clear about the health issues linked to senior isolation. Experts liken the dangers of isolation to those of smoking and obesity. Socially isolated older adults are at higher risk for:
- Premature death
- Heart disease
One solution to combat isolation and its associated health risks is moving to a senior living community.
How do senior living communities keep residents safe, while also making it easier for them to stay socially engaged?
Here’s what families who are considering a transition should know about beating isolation with a move to senior living.
Senior Living Promotes Social Engagement
- Offers virtual avenues for connecting
Even before the pandemic, some Clearwater Living residents were already using technology to stay in touch with loved ones. Video chat services, such as Skype and Zoom, have allowed many of them to stay connected. Eversound headphones have also made it easier for residents to have clear conversations with their families by blocking external noise. As coronavirus concerns grew, our team members began helping residents who weren’t quite as comfortable with technology make meaningful connections. While video chat isn’t the same as being able to hug a grandchild, it is the next best thing to being there in person.
- Hosts lifestyle programming in small, safe groups
While senior living communities have been required to modify the size and delivery of their life enrichment programs and events, activities are still happening every day. “In light of COVID-19, our lifestyle activities look different than they have in the past. We have shifted to providing small group activities where residents stay physically distanced and wear a mask. Residents also have the opportunity to sign up for one on one activities with team members,” explains Britt Martin, Lifestyle Director at Clearwater at Riverpark. “Physically distanced walks, art activities, and wine tasting classes are just a few examples of the small group activities our residents have been enjoying.”
In addition to these activities, residents have had the opportunity to enjoy outdoor visits with family and friends. Whether it be from the resident’s balcony or in the courtyard, all visits follow physical distancing protocols and local county mandates.
- Enables informal gatherings to occur naturally
During normal times, informal gatherings among residents are a common sight. You’ll find small groups enjoying cups of coffee together, playing a lively game of cards, or taking in an evening movie. These opportunities give residents a chance to build bonds with peers.
To the extent that it’s safely possible, small gatherings still occur. Residents follow physical distancing recommendations, as well as wear masks and use hand sanitizer. We know these best practices help protect residents against the spread of the virus. While regulations vary by state and county regarding who is allowed to visit, having fewer people on-site helps protect residents.
- Provides personalized doorstep visits from team members
With COVID-19 protocols in place, Clearwater communities have modified their calendar of Empowered Living events to include personalized doorstep fun! Team members stop by each apartment to deliver snacks, books, root beer floats, ice cream treats, and even iPads so that residents can enjoy a thought-provoking TED talk. Along with deliveries, residents can also join in creative doorway activities and exercise programs with neighbors in their hall at a safe distance. These doorstep visits and activities provide another layer of social engagement for residents to prevent feelings of loneliness or isolation.
Explore Senior Living Communities Today
If an elder in your life is struggling to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic alone, it might be a good time to explore senior living communities. Most have come up with creative ways to help families explore their options from the security of their own homes. Virtual tours and Zoom conference are great ways to learn more about the communities and meet the team.
For families in California and Nevada, we invite you to consider Clearwater Living. You can learn more by calling the Clearwater community nearest you today!