No matter what happens in life, even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, always look for the silver lining. Residential assisted living home caregivers should be asking two critical questions:
- What are we learning and how are we making the most of a difficult situation?
- How are we maintaining human connection?
The Silver Lining Of Senior Living Amid Social Distancing
Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, residential assisted living homes were factoring the risks associated with loneliness. The entire world is now noticing the power of human connection. As a result, people are finding ways to stay connected with loved ones during the pandemic, and this includes seniors in assisted living. Facetime, Zoom and other digital communication platforms have risen to an all-time increase in usage. What happens when life returns to normal? The need for smaller residential assisted living homes will become greater and more desired. For many years, big box nursing home facilities have been a need-based accommodation. It was the solution for seniors struggling to live at home without family caregivers who could provide assistance. Now, with the rise of home healthcare combined with fears associated with COVID-19, consumers are finding other ways to solve this challenge. The residential assisted living industry is limiting the spread of the coronavirus and keeping seniors connected throughout this challenging process. RAL homes have become the silver lining for senior care during the most life threatening and challenging seasons faced by the senior care industry.
Maintaining A Human Connection
Socially connected with people is a natural aspect of humanity – human interaction is even more a natural part of our lives during stressful seasons of life.
Social connections, even gathering in groups, tends to make us feel safe and shield us from mental and physical harm. The critical community challenges we are faced with from COVID-19 call for RAL home operators and caregivers to be creative. The use of creativity is the only healthy way to maintain our social connections, and manage our mental and physical health during times of social distancing.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended a policy of social distancing, which is a strategy to slow the infection rate. This strategy is protecting our most vulnerable community of seniors.
CDC Social Distancing Strategy:
- Avoid large crowds,
- Work from home whenever possible,
- Close schools and provide education online,
- Cancel large meetings and conferences,
- Give up our weekly social meetings gathering places, and
- Stay home.
These strategies help eliminate an overwhelming number of patients inundating the healthcare system. However, extroverts thrive on social contact. As a result, social distancing might seem like torture by means of isolation. For introverts, it may not initially feel much different than a normal day. Over time, everyone needs some kind of social interaction for mental and physical health. As we adjust to social distancing strategies, RAL homes have learned to be more creative. It is important to understand that social distancing is not a withdrawal from society, even amongst seniors in residential assisted living. It is an invitation to contribute and connect in other ways – there are two ways to maintain connections, internally and externally.
Internal Strategies For Maintaining Connection
Internal strategies for maintaining connection connects us to our community through shared community values.
Creating A Sense Of Shared Meaning:
- Recognize we do not live in isolation. Our interconnectedness and choices affect others in our community, which affects people in neighboring communities, regions and so on.
- Identify friends and loved ones in your life who you are protecting by using a social distancing strategy.
- Recognize how you are protecting others by protecting people close to you.
- Think about what personal and community protection means to you. How does this feel? What value does this represent?
- Spend time sensing and feeling the importance of living your community values in your mind and body.
- Inspire, encourage and recognize others for following protective strategies at work; at home; and through electronic means, such as calls, videoconferences and social media.
External Strategies For Maintaining Connection
External strategies for maintaining connection are creative ways we can safely communicate through our senses.
Examples Of Safe Connection Using The Senses:
- Use electronics to stay in contact with friends, neighbors and loved ones. This could include using video conference programs, making voice calls instead of sending texts or talking with a neighbor through windows while maintaining a safe distance.
- Spend quality time with the people you live with, such as playing board games or completing an indoor project.
- Make a family meal or dessert recipe that reminds you of friends or family you are unable to visit, and then call them to tell them about it. This way, you get an experience of internal and external connection.
- Write in a journal about your experiences during this time of social distancing. Not only will this help you sort out what you are thinking and feeling, but also it can be shared going forward as a way for future generations to connect with the past.
Ralna Is Keeping Senior Living Vibrant Amid Covid-19
When we act together to maintain safe distance during this pandemic, we are connecting and bonding. Do you recognize the importance of RAL owners, operators and caregivers staying up-to-date on innovative practices in senior care? Visit www.RALNA.org for additional information on providing quality care for seniors across the country. With trending blog topics, legal connections, discounted products, unique services, marketing resources, and so much more, RALNA will keep you informed. If you have additional questions and concerns about the use of telecommunication in your RAL home, read Embrace Tech To Keep Your RAL Home Safe & Healthy With Telecommunications.
The Residential Assisted Living National Association also provides a wide range of information to help owners and operators of RAL homes advance their businesses.
The membership-based organization is the only national affiliation changing the assisted living industry.