Social Interaction + Strict COVID Protocols Lead Seniors to Consider a Move
by THE STORYSTUDIO
photos provided by LCB SENIOR LIVING
When a recent snowstorm struck the East Coast, it complicated the lives of seniors living alone and the adult children charged with their care. Besides the logistical challenges the storm posed for seniors, it also added exponential strain to caregivers who had to balance their own daily challenges with the care of an older parent or patient.
The challenges for seniors living alone during the COVID-19 pandemic have been well documented. Many individuals — especially those who are older — face a daily paradox between remaining isolated or engaging with others at an increased risk of infection. Independence is a point of pride for those of us aged sixty-five and older, and yet simple errands to the pharmacy or doctor’s office, purchasing groceries, or visiting with friends and family have transformed into a serious liability of being exposed to the coronavirus. At the same time, avoiding contact, has resulted in a growing crisis among independent seniors facing chronic isolation and loneliness.
A recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that loneliness had reached epidemic levels even before the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has only made it more obvious that older adults require the type of social support and safety measures that an assisted living community can provide.
The CDC study identified many potential health risks associated with loneliness, including a 50% increase in dementia, a 29% increase in heart disease risk, and a 32% increase in risk of stroke. Additionally, a 68% increased risk of hospitalization and 57% increased risk of emergency room visits — not places anyone wants to be these days — and even premature death are linked to isolation. Not surprisingly, loneliness is also associated with much higher rates of depression, anxiety, and even suicide.
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In addition to protocol adjustments in light of the current pandemic, premier senior living communities continue to focus on familiar matters like nutrition and wellness.
A recent NIH report on the importance of nutrition in aging populations states that maintaining a nutrient-dense diet remains critically important for adults as we age. Years of research demonstrate that quality of diet also has a huge effect on physical condition, cognitive condition, bone health, eye health, vascular function, and the immune system. Cooking and access to nutritious food are two of the most significant health detriments for isolated seniors.
Contrast this with the nutrition aspects found at reputable senior living communities. Executive chefs
Yet most seniors also take great pride in maintaining an independent lifestyle. Given this conflict between maintaining one's health and the potential risks of social contact, every senior who lives alone is faced with making daily decisions that may result in dire consequences. Michele Piskin, a long-time geriatric care advocate and Executive Director of The Residence at Westport, a senior living community located in Westport Connecticut, suggests a different path to solving the paradox: relocate to a senior living community.
“What I tell seniors and their adult children is that while right now may seem like a challenging time to move into a senior living community, it is absolutely the right time. If elderly parents have caregivers coming and going in their homes, visiting the grocery store, and doctor’s offices, the risks of being exposed to the virus are far greater.” Piskin continued, “In a well-run senior living community, everything happens much more safely.”
Piskin says residents and families are pleasantly surprised with the experience of living in an environment that promotes the strictest safety protocols and infection control. All deliveries, including food and medication, are thoroughly sanitized upon arrival. Associates and guests must follow rigorous COVID-19 safety protocols. The residents and staff are also tested regularly and are prioritized for vaccination.
The professional staff at a senior living community are experienced with managing and preventing viruses from affecting the population during the annual flu season and now, COVID-19. Given this expertise, a well-run senior community is far better equipped than an individual living at home to handle a virus of any type. Community staff are also trained to maintain vigilance over the general wellness of each resident, including any physical or cognitive decline, fall prevention, and other potential issues.
In a well-run senior living community, everything happens much more safely.
come with world-class culinary education & experience, along with a soft touch in working with older adults. Where it’s done well, chefs collaborate with nutrition experts to design menus that are both delicious and healthy. As in fine dining establishments, consumers should expect that these chefs will take advantage of fresh local produce, seafood, meats and poultry whenever possible.
Because of the excellent hygienic and infectious disease control standards in a community like The Residence at Westport, community members can once again participate in a spectrum of social, cultural, educational, and wellness programs. Each engagement opportunity is expertly designed to nurture social connection, stimulate intellectual curiosity, and provide a well-rounded and engaging experience. “Wine tastings and wine pairings, art exhibits, Japanese language classes, tech classes, and Tai Chi are all a part of everyday life,” Piskin stated.
A recent exhibition of local artists held at The Residence at Westport—part of a regular arts program at the community.
“Making the decision to move to a senior living community is an important one, but once you decide, it’s often a gigantic relief,” says Piskin. "If you're thinking about moving to a senior living community, my advice is simple. Parents: Leave your energy for what you want to do and let go of the things that you don't have to do. Adult children: Having to worry about the essentials of care as an adult child can be a full-time job. And the nuances of life have been made more difficult because of COVID. Let us take care of your parents so you can enjoy your life and your parents."
Due to COVID-19, many individuals and their adult children have put transitioning to a senior living community on hold. However, senior communities have worked diligently for over a year to create the safest possible environment that is actually beneficial to the residents.
For further information and to contact senior advocate and expert Michele Piskin directly, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit The Residence at Westport website to learn more. The Residence at Westport is owned and operated by LCB Senior Living. LCB owns two additional Fairfield County senior living communities, in Darien and Stamford. Visit www.lcbseniorliving.com for further information on other locations.
Michele Piskin, LCB Senior Living