Benefits of Senior Living at this Unprecedented Time

The news of Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing Facilities closing their doors to family members and friends of the residents to prevent the spread of COVID-19 hit many people like a ton of bricks. It brought the reality of the seriousness of this pandemic to the forefront of people’s minds. It also was one of the first realizations many people had that this pandemic is going to be a lonely time for many of our most vulnerable populations. There have been many social media posts going viral showing family members standing outside of their loved one’s facility window, wishing they could embrace each other. These pictures truly portray the senior “locked away” behind facility walls for their protection. Although I think the majority of our society understands and agrees that this is needed to protect the residents of these facilities, it also saddens many. I’ve seen people share these types of pictures on social media with comments mentioning how badly they feel for these facility residents or how scared these people must be. I will not disregard these feelings of sadness for these residents and their families or the difficulty of the change it brings, but I also want to recognize the positive side of living in a senior community during a global pandemic. I have a unique position to see how this has affected many seniors who live in various living situations as I have clients who live by themselves, at home with caregivers, in independent living communities, in assisted living communities, and in skilled nursing facilities. Below are my three top positives to living in a senior living community during this pandemic.

  1. Food and Necessities:
    Many people choose to move into a senior living community such as an assisted living or skilled nursing facility because they will have all of their needs provided for and that in itself has proved to be more beneficial now than ever. These residents do not have to find someone to shop for their groceries to stay safe in their homes or worry if they will find toilet paper the one time they brave going out to buy their own essential needs.
  2. 24/7 access to healthcare professionals and support staff:
    Not only do residents at facilities have caregivers and medical professionals monitoring their well-being several times a day, but they also know there will always be someone there to assist them with everyday challenges or needs they may have. Many people who live at home rely on family members, friends, or paid caregivers to help them with their activities of daily living or other tasks. This pandemic has required family members to limit their interactions with their elderly parents, grandparents, and friends. Caregiving agencies are working tirelessly to ensure their caregivers are well and have support in their personal lives so they can go into work, but many elderly clients have had to go without the normal support they get from these agencies due to the social side effects this virus has had on the caregiving workforce. Residents in senior living communities and their families have the peace of mind knowing there will always be someone around in a time of need and someone monitoring their healthcare needs.
  3. Socialization:
    Isolation and loneliness are already major concerns for the aging population, but this pandemic has exacerbated that problem tremendously. The effort that senior living communities have put into providing continued social and emotional support to their residents is outstanding. They have had to alter their normal activities to keep the residents safe, but have worked diligently to provide a level of normalcy for their residents. While still having some fun and laughter is great, it is the simple ability to have an in-person conversation and regular human contact that is the biggest positive in my book. The fear that is running rampant related to this pandemic is often turned into anxiety and depression, which affects one’s physical well-being. Having regular human interaction and someone to remind you that you are supported and are not alone is invaluable to this vulnerable population at this time.