As a result of the spread of coronavirus and learning the effects of the virus on older folks and those with preexisting health conditions, most senior living communities (including those in the Agemark family – Astoria, CountryHouse, Kensington-Evergreen, The Meriwether and TreVista) have implemented visitor restrictions and are limiting personnel in the building to essential staff only.
This has been a tough change for many families, who are used to visiting their loved ones frequently. Connecting with you is more important than ever during difficult times. It just takes a little more creativity!
Linda Hanel, Life Enrichment Coach at Evergreen Senior Living and Basic Care in Dickinson, North Dakota, says that our employees have many tools at their disposal to help families stay connected. “We are all working on creative ways to ensure that residents stay connected with their loved ones. With more than 20 communities in the Agemark family, we’ve been working together and sharing creative ideas. In addition, we’ve been attending online seminars hosted by one of our technology partners, iN2L, which has given us great ideas to implement in our communities.”
Although we know that nothing beats an in-person visit, here are ways to connect with your loved one while visiting is restricted.
Connect using technology such as Facetime or Skype
In Agemark communities, communication with others through FaceTime, Skype, OneDay videos and other digital messages has always been available, but now’s the time to really take advantage of these tools. To schedule a phone or video call, talk to your community Director or Life Enrichment Coach.
Send letters, photos and drawings
Send your love and support via the mail. Astoria Memory Care in Tracy, California, recently made an online request for mail to lift the spirits of those in our communities – this post has already been shared nearly 400 times and reached more than 35,000 people. Particularly a great idea for kids who are currently home from school, getting a specially mailed surprise will surely bring a smile to your loved one’s face. And don’t worry – all mail will be reviewed and sanitized before it’s distributed to keep our residents safe.
Send a care package of treats
Your loved one would love a package that shows how much you’re thinking of them! At CountryHouse in Council Bluffs, Iowa, an amazing granddaughter sent her grandma’s favorite chocolates for her to enjoy (and hopefully, share!).
Send a craft or activity
Residents are having fun keeping busy in light of our current situation. Many are working on crafts or painting projects – especially ones that celebrate Spring! Ask your loved one’s Life Enrichment Coach if there are any supplies that residents can use to create a masterpiece. In return, we’ll send you (or post) a photo of them enjoying the activity you sent!
Give them an outside surprise
The Evergreen Inn in Dickinson, North Dakota, recently made a request of families and friends to surprise their loved one with a display outside their window, or another window of the community. Fun ideas include yard signs, flamingos, garden gnomes or pinwheels. Update your display frequently to keep the surprises coming!
Post a heart or another message on your door, window or in your own yard
Especially for Agemark’s memory care communities, a drive is part of our daily routine. Those drives are more important now than ever before as our outings are limited, and our communities will continue to take drives as long as it’s allowed in the community at large. If you see our bus in your community, know that our purpose is to safely get residents out of the building for some fresh air. At this time, we’re maintaining social distancing by limiting the number of participants on the bus, and are not leaving the bus for outings. We’re also practicing good handwashing techniques and sanitizing our bus more frequently. CountryHouse in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, made a request via Facebook for neighbors to put hearts on their homes for residents to spot on their daily drives. Seeing the support of our neighbors made the daily drive extra special.
Families and friends – let’s all get through this together. Get creative and stay connected with your loved one. If you need more ideas, ask your community Life Enrichment Coach!