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Thinking Outside the Box When You Are Encouraged To Stay In One . . .

Patti Prior playing Hungry Hungry Hippo prior to in room quarantine and masking requirement

Life for all of us has been turned upside down.  The quarantine life has been a challenge nationally, locally and personally.  Most of us find being confined to our home a great sacrifice.  All done for the well-being of humanity protecting the like of our residents who, because of advanced age and co-morbidity are highest at risk for getting COVID 19.  Media stories abound of the difficulties of isolation, the economic hardships for businesses, and the massive impact the pandemic has made on our nation’s economy.   Daily we hear the stories of valiant heroes in healthcare and those who are fighting for their lives.  Sadly, we are reminded of those who have lost their fight and the families that are grieving for their loved ones.  Since the first stories of when COVID 19 first reached our shores in Washington, we have not heard much about our elderly population that are living in group homes or in nursing homes.  How are they? How have their lives been turned upside down?

Penny Westegard planting seeds.

The sacrifices have extend to them as well.  The current guidelines recommend residents stay in their room to maintain an already compromised and frail immune system.  If you think that our life and socializing sphere has shrunk, it has shrunk immensely to those living in institutionalized settings.   Facilities are faced with eliminating the socialization aspect of our residents’ lives while still meeting the human’s need and natural inclination for being around others.  Social distancing means no more dining room gathering for meals, activities and special events.  Special trips and outings are postponed.  Human touch and comfort is eliminated.  Volunteers, pet visits and families aren’t allowed to come in for visits.  How can providers love and care for residents? It’s an opportunity for all.  Residents can still see smiling eyes when a smile is shrouded by a mask. They can still hear the pleasure of music and the comfort of words at a distance.

CC Akers planting seeds in planters

Our Recreations Department has done “What Ever It Takes and Then Some”, thinking outside the box providing activities for residents who feel they are stuck in a box.  The Recreations Department’s job has exponentially increased in difficulty.  During this unprecedented and frightening time, finding activities to meet the residents’ psychosocial needs while protecting their vulnerability is an ultimate challenge.  Humans are resourceful, with that, residents and families can interact virtually or telephonically.  Volunteers are sharing letters of encouragement.  Games are being played, flower pots are being planted, and one on one visits with instruments played and nails being painted carry on.   Dining rooms are re imagined into obstacle courses for independent remote control car usage.

In conclusion, life is not as care free as it once was, but rest assured that the confines of that box will be surmounted with the utmost care for our elders.

Life Care Center of Evergreen
By Rebecca Heath, RDN
303-674-4500 | lcca.com/69/