COVID-19 has brought changes to the entire world, and assisted living communities are no exception. The staff and residents of Collinwood and other assisted living communities across the country are taking part in changes that might seem inconvenient, annoying or even frightening. But even during this time, seniors can continue to live a vibrant lifestyle and find blessings and enjoyment through their days.
Here's a look at some of the possible changes residents and their loved ones are seeing at Collinwood assisted living community, along with some tips for continuing an active, enjoyable lifestyle alongside them.
Most assisted living communities in the nation, including Collinwood, have severely restricted visitation during this time. The restrictions are put in place in line with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and are designed to help protect the health and safety of all residents and staff.
Some forms these restrictions can take that can seem inconvenient, annoying or even depressing include:
- Stopping family and friends from visiting in person
- Keeping helpers and nonessential professionals, such as someone to do your hair, out of the community
- Stopping you from coming and going from the community if you previously did so
- Restricting planned social outings and transportation, which you might have looked forward to previously
There's no getting around the fact that these limitations can be annoying. In many cases, people outside of assisted living communities are experiencing the same frustrations as they're required by various state or local laws to remain at home except for certain essential activities. Here are some tips for seniors for dealing with some of these issues.
- Communicate with loved ones and friends as much as possible in other ways. Telephones, mobile devices and computers are all valuable tools right now. Make it a point to reach out to others with the phone and invite them to call you too. Schedule video chats using free software and tools such as FaceTime, Skype, Facebook Messenger and Zoom. If you're not sure how to use these tools, reach out to the Collinwood staff for assistance.
- Try not to dwell too much on what you have lost in this situation. Think instead of what you can do with this time. Read books by a favorite author, binge watch a new television show, crochet a blanket or start writing your memoir. Those are just some of the many activities you can do in your assisted living apartment to help pass time and ward off stress.
- Remember that this too shall pass. In many cases, seniors have a leg up in this crisis because they have lived through many years and crises of their own. Draw on your maturity and wisdom to help yourself remember that nothing on this earth is permanent.
Another big change is potential social distancing measures within the senior living community. You may have less contact with other residents or be forced to have conversations across distances, such as from each side of the hallway. You might even want to give up trying to stay in community at all because it's simply too difficult to consider all the safety precautions that might be required right now.
One of the best things seniors of faith can do when they're faced with such thoughts is remember the importance of fellowship. We weren't made to weather every storm alone; God made mankind to fellowship and support each other and worship and praise him together.
It might take a bit of creativity to do that during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Collinwood staff is working regularly to provide ways for residents to enjoy their time despite these challenges.
In recent weeks, you might have noticed Collinwood staff and others wearing more personal protective equipment. This can be frightening, in part because many people have only seen this level of PPE in extreme medical situations or on medical television dramas. But these measures are actually preventative in most cases, so they're nothing to be afraid of.
One of the best ways to contend with issues of anxiety that might be spawned by people wearing masks and other equipment is to add personalization whenever possible. For example, if you want to — or are required to — wear a mask yourself for any reason, consider making one for yourself with fabric in a pattern that matches your sense of style or humor. And, if you can sew, this might be a great time to find out if you can volunteer your time and efforts making masks for other people.
Ultimately, the only way to get through a crisis as big as COVID-19 is together. And that's something seniors in assisted living communities have to their advantage. They're already in a community of like-minded people and caring, compassionate staff who are working together to keep everyone as safe as possible.
Posted on Thu, May 21, 2020
by Shawn Deane