Within the last year, nursing homes all across the United States have been affected by extreme COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions. Nursing homes are especially vulnerable to outbreaks due to the age of the residents and the special care that they require. To make matters worse, the atmosphere of nursing homes is frequently cold, clinical, and devoid of home’s familiar comforts. As you can imagine, these living environments became even more miserable as the pandemic intensified. 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 live secluded, repetitive, and lonely lives. Luckily, there is something outsiders can do to help.
Comforting Loved Ones
The majority of the world went into various states of depression, worry, and fear during the initial COVID-19 outbreak, leaving many longing to be with friends and family. The physical, emotional, and mental tolls that the pandemic has had on seniors in the wake of this news have been severe. Many residents in assisted living facilities are wishing, now more than ever, to see their loved ones for comfort and normality.
It is important for these seniors to have human interaction to improve their mood, mental health, social skills, and emotional stability. Normally, assisted living facilities provide opportunities for their residents to engage in social activities to form relationships with other residents and staff and give them a chance to get out of their rooms to break up their daily routines. Activities such as karaoke, bingo, board games, movie nights, holiday parties, themed dinners, and even exercise classes keep the residents happy in their everyday lives while anticipating future activities and events. Residents also looked forward to having visitors so they can interact with loved ones, friends, and family who reside outside of the facility.
During the worldwide pandemic, these residents lost their ability to participate in regular group activities as well as the ability to have outside visitors, leaving most in a depressive state. This greatly reduced the small amount of happiness that the residents felt in their everyday lives. As a result, facility workers saw an increasing portion of residents neglecting their health, skipping meals, and even refusing care treatments.
Back to Normal-ish…
After almost a year of visitation restrictions and strict living guidelines within nursing homes, there is finally light at the end of the tunnel! Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) revised senior living guidelines, now allowing the safe visitation of friends and family inside assisted living facilities. Special residential activities are up and running again, now with proper guidelines to ensure that all residents maintain a safe distance from one another, wear proper facial coverings, and meet in a sanitized common areas. There are also many recommended guidelines and restrictions concerning outside visitors depending on the overall health status of the resident.
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 day-to-day activities allow for residents to continue 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.
Safe for All
While taking precautions and prioritizing the safety of those residing and working in assisted care facilities, remember to visit your beloved seniors during this time. Additionally, 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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