Within the last year, nursing homes were deeply affected by extreme COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions. Nursing homes are especially vulnerable to outbreaks due to the special care required by residents, the residents’ ages, and the residents living in close proximity to one another and staff. Additionally, nursing facilities are clinical environments that often lack the colors and comforts of home. As you can imagine, these living environments became increasingly miserable during the pandemic as pressure to isolate, close doors, and restrict interactions set in with full force. Dealing with somber living spaces, health conditions, and the stress of catching or spreading a worldwide virus is not appealing to anyone, especially not assisted living residents who already live secluded, repetitive, and lonely lives. All that being said, there is something you can do to help!
Needing a Sense of Comfort
The majority of the world went into various states of depression, worry, and fear during the onset of the pandemic, leaving many longing to be with friends and family. The physical, emotional, and mental tolls that the pandemic has had on seniors have been severe. Most residents are not only in desperate need of visitors but are also unable to advocate for their own social needs. It’s not like the average senior citizen is a Zoom expert!
Like all humans, it is vital for seniors to have fulfilling interactions to improve their mood, mental health, social skills, and emotional stability. In regular circumstances, many assisted living facilities provide opportunities for their residents to engage in social activities, form relationships with other residents and staff, and give them a chance to break up their routines with movement, learning, and fun. Activities such as karaoke, bingo, board games, movie nights, holiday parties, themed dinners, private concerts, and even exercise classes are designed to keep the residents happy as their care continues. Residents also can look forward to having loved ones, friends, and family come and visit with them.
When the pandemic started, these residents lost their ability to participate in activities as well as the ability to have outside visitors, leaving most in a depressive state. Many different assisted living centers’ staff members reported that a large portion of their patients neglected their health in new and troubling ways, skipped meals, and even refused routine treatments and medications.
A Touch of Normalcy
After almost a year of enduring strict visitation restrictions and living guidelines, the light has appeared at the end of the tunnel! Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) revised pandemic guidelines for senior living centers, now allowing the safe visitation of friends and family inside of assisted living facilities. Special residential activities are up and running again, now including proper procedures to ensure that all residents maintain a safe distance from one another, wear proper facial masks, and meet in a sanitized common area to reduce the spreading of COVID-19. There are also many recommended guidelines concerning outside visitors, as well as restrictions depending on the overall health status of the resident who may be expecting visitors.
It is important to visit aging loved ones to not only help break up the monotony of their day-to-day lives and activities but to also help them feel more connected to the world around them. Social interaction is essential for optimal mental health. The opening of visitation privileges and activities allows for residents to resume their routines, visit with family and friends, and maintain healthy relationships within the facility while also staying safe. Visiting a loved one in a nursing home is extremely important during this time– it could save them from feeling forgotten, and in turn, save their life.
Visitation Safe for All
Remember to visit your beloved seniors while taking precautions and being mindful of others permanently residing and working in assisted care facilities. Make sure you read up on your local nursing homes’ visitation policies as well as how you can help protect yourself and others during your visit.
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