For residents of Florida's numerous independent living, assisted living, and memory care facilities, the last few months have been incredibly isolating. The lucky few whose families visited them just before the COVID-19 pandemic have now been unable to see their loved ones in person for about four months. For some, it's been much longer than that – and there seems to be no end in sight for the statewide ban on long-term care facility visitation.
Senior living communities understand how important it is to keep their residents socially stimulated. Prolonged isolation and loneliness is known to contribute to many mental and physical health issues in seniors, including depression, anxiety, and increased risk of certain diseases. While seniors who live in these communities may not feel as lonely as those who live alone, the inability to see their loved ones in person can still have a profound impact on their overall well-being.
That's why so many senior living communities have worked extra hard to provide emotional support and socially-distant community activities for residents, despite the current restrictions and safety protocols. Here are a few ways these communities are helping their residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. Teaching residents how to use communication technology
Seniors may not be as familiar with all the digital communication technologies people are currently using to stay in touch virtually during the pandemic. Community staff members are dedicating time to teach residents how to use technology like email, text messaging, FaceTime, and video conferencing so they can communicate with their loved ones more frequently.
2. Providing stationery supplies to residents' families
Handwritten letters are somewhat of a lost art, and younger generations may not always keep a stock of stationery supplies like notepaper, envelopes, and stamps on hand. Communities are going out of their way to provide these supplies, including paid postage, to residents' family members so they can easily send a special note. Staff members may even assist with dictated replies if a resident has trouble holding and writing with a pen.
3. Recording and sharing video messages
For residents who are unable to use video technology themselves, communities have offered to facilitate video messages between residents and their families. They will often work with residents to record and send outgoing messages to family via email or text message, and share incoming response videos from their loved ones.
4. Scheduling outdoor visits and drive-through parades
Although visitors are not allowed inside senior living communities, they can still physically be on the premises. Communities have been able to take advantage of this by inviting loved ones to participate in drive-through parades and outdoor visits through glass windows. Seeing the faces of their family members in-person, even from a distance, can have a significant positive effect on residents' moods and spirits.
5. Collecting and displaying outdoor posters from loved ones
Many families with relatives in senior living communities like to create colorful signs and posters to show love and support for their loved one. Communities are finding designated areas to display these visuals and safely bringing their residents to see their families' special messages.
6. Facilitating care package deliveries
Care packages containing items like snacks, books, photos, puzzles, and other activities are a great way for families to show their loved one they're thinking of them. Communities are arranging safe drop-off and delivery options for families who want to send care packages to residents.
At Welcome Home Senior Services and Placement Co., we are proud to represent more than 500 Florida communities that are working hard to keep its residents safe, healthy, and happy. For more information on the facilities we represent, feel free to browse our featured communities in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties or contact us directly for a consultation call.