Combatting Social Isolation During Covid-19 for Seniors
It is no secret that the Covid-19 pandemic has turned our entire world upside down. We at Fellowship Square Historic Mesa are seeing this firsthand for our residents since we have multiple types of senior living residences. Our Mesa community residents might be in senior apartments for independent living or in our assisted living homes; and they are each under our care. We’re taking all steps necessary to keep our residents safe as possible and also working hard to make sure they don’t get too gloomy during this time of isolation.
Assisted and Independent Living Services During Covid-19
Elderly adults are exceptionally vulnerable to the Covid-19 virus, which has resulted in mandates to lock down long-term care facilities including skilled nursing, assisted living and memory care senior communities. Here at the Oasis Assisted Living and Reflections Memory Care community, our residents have been under lock-down since March.
Our Independent Living services have shifted for Fellowship Square senior residents here in Mesa, AZ. In the spring non-essential visitors were not allowed on property, but now independent living residents can have non-essentials visitors. We encourage that residents limit the visits and maintain social distance. Another service that has been impacted is community dining, which is always such a fun and social time. Thankfully meals are still provided and now we deliver meals to residents' apartments and while looking forward to the day we’re sharing meals in our dining room (likely social distanced, but we’ll still be thrilled). Activities have shifted as well and are being offered at a reduced schedule.
These measures and many others were taken very seriously by management and with urgency, not only because of the state mandates but because resident health and safety is of the utmost importance. While so much has had to change for the seniors residing in our independent or assisted living homes, we know how important their mental well-being is.
Unfortunately, feelings of social isolation are not uncommon in a long-term care setting and are well documented.“The prevalence of severe loneliness among older people living in care homes is at least double that of community-dwelling populations: 22% to 42% for the resident population compared with 10% for the community population.”1 This information was published shortly before the Covid-19 pandemic struck our country and we know that social isolation has gotten much worse since then.
We’re stepping up for our residents
“To combat these effects we continue to take a number of creative steps to cause low risk social interaction, physical activity and positive mental stimulation,” says Trisha Dreher, our Life Enrichment Director.
- For example, we have designed activities for groups of six or less and rearranged how we do things to maintain an appropriate social distance.
- We also strictly observe infection control protocols by disinfecting the areas in between activities.
- Some of the activities that residents are enjoying the most currently include things like Swimming, Bingo, Trivia, Card Games, Model Airplane Group, Password Prize Game, Painting Class, Sit & Be Fit, Bible Study and Prayer Gatherings.
Matthew Clark, our Senior Fit instructor, noted that “Since the gyms are still required to be closed by state mandate, I have been doing many 1-1 activities with residents and have recorded exercise classes for their internal television channel." Matt also conducts individual balance and fall risk assessments for our residents using the latest technology via Virtusense®.
Laura K. Ontiveros, Activities Coordinator at Oasis Assisted Living and Reflections Memory Care, had this to say: “We’ve done a number of things to help our residents feel more connected to family and friends at this time, even when they haven’t been able to physically be together. These things include facilitating video chats and phone calls as well as creating a special visiting room where they can visit in person while social distancing for safety. Relationships between staff and residents have always been special since staff see them more than their own families sometimes! Once someone comes through the front door, they’re a part of the family we’ve made here. One Assisted Living resident said that “We’ve always seen them (staff) more than our families, and now it’s doubly so! As long as we have all of these girls, we’ll be fine.” Laura went on to say that, “While nothing can replace time with loved ones during times like these, we’re doing the most we can to be together even when we’re apart. Our residents give our staff strength and we are lucky to have each other.”
Mary Azamy, Senior Leasing Consultant, has been one of several staff during this period of increased isolation who make regularly scheduled calls to Independent Living residents just to make sure they are feeling okay, to see if they need anything and to brighten their day with a joke and a Scripture. These calls have brought Independent Living staff attention to physical and mental health concerns and provided opportunities to recognize special events like birthdays or anniversaries or even sad events like lost loved ones or pets. "It’s the little things – the personal expressions – that matter most,” says Mary.
Here to Help!
With so much of our staff working to help the seniors living at Fellowship Square Historic Mesa, we know that this is not a normal time and we are not the normal active retirement community that we were pre-covid. To know more about what we’re doing or for additional information, please reach out at 480-436-5122.