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How can individuals support their senior communities during COVID-19?


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**The audio at the end continues to cut out, so here is a transcript of my final sentence**

“These seniors in my local community rely on these activities to maintain contact with friends and stay healthy. In order to help our seniors throughout this crisis, please take a look at my page, and find out what you can do to help your local senior community”.

 

What is there to do during a pandemic? Schools are closed down, you can’t be in large groups, and your favorite restaurants only allow for take-out. You’re missing your friends and you’re tired of doing online school, but at least you can organize some group Facetime calls!

For most Senior Citizens, their options of what to do are even more limited than yours. Especially seniors who live in residential communities––things spread fast in close knit communities. If one resident gets bed bugs, it’s likely to imagine the entire floor will get them pretty soon. The same goes for sickness. 

Most seniors aren’t as tech savvy as the younger generations––if they have phones, they’re most likely the ones you can flip shut, and freak out if you accidentally connect to the Internet. Some seniors can’t drive to order take-out, and the idea of walking to the nearest Chick-Fil-A may seem like a daunting task. 

Seniors who live in residential communities are also having their daily events and activities shut down or cancelled, which tends to put a damper in their mood. 

So what can we, the tech savvy generation who is also not as vulnerable as older adults, do to help those that might need some help?

 

CDC Information on Covid-19 Risk for Older Populations

Image taken from AARP. “CDC Information on COVID-19 Risk for Older Populations”

 

Background Information on the CDC and Older Adults 

The CDC advises older adults who may be vulnerable to take precautions like washing their hands regularly, staying home if possible, and staying about 6 feet apart from other people. The CDC also advises that healthcare facilities restrict visitors, limit activities to keep residents safe, and take regular temperature checks.  

The CDC reports that 8 out of 10 deaths reported in the U.S. have been in adults 65 years old and older. 

 

 

Get To Know My Senior Community

 

 

Westminster Towers is a senior living community located in Orlando, Florida. Westminster Towers is located in the heart of Downtown Orlando, and offers residents Assisted and Independent living options. Westminster Towers also has a Rehabilitation center as well as a skilled nursing staff. 

Due to COVID-19, Westminster Towers has advised that visitors are no longer permitted, dining room services should be discontinued, Fitness Centers and Beauty Salons should be closed down, and residents were advised to not leave. While these measures were taken help limit the risk of those who are vulnerable, it in turn also isolated an entire community. 

So you might be asking yourself what is there to do if we cannot visit these communities? Afterall, it can be hard to support others if we can’t be within six feet of each other. 

 

After reaching out to my local Senior Living Community, here is what I found out I can do to help. 

 

 

CALL TO ACTION

 

Seniors often have difficulty managing change and they may need emotional support from others who can provide reassurance that they are safe and secure.

In order to help our senior communities while also maintaining social distancing, I encourage local youth to engage with residents in their local senior communities by sending letters to residents, submitting videos of encouragement, inspirations, or even videos of daily tasks like making dinner 

Additionally, you can put your sewing talents to work by helping provide cloth masks to nurses and physicians who work at the senior homes, or healthcare centers. 

While Westminster Towers has options for residents to order groceries, your local Senior Living Community may not. Think about reaching out to your Senior Community and find out if you can help deliver groceries to the residents!

Usually each living community has a Director of Activities or a Director of Volunteers. These individuals can help identify useful ways to engage with your community. Many living communities have their own closed circuit broadcasting capabilities which would lend themselves for students to share creative ideas with residents. 

 

Two residents at Westminster Towers (located in Orlando, Florida) before going out on a walk around the property. Photo Courtesy of Virginia Porter

 

Work Cited and Consulted

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1RLb3qCq9OhiImWvzhF_BMr2AWP0qhTIUuh-ka5jPdNk/edit?usp=sharing

 

Feedback

If you have any questions about how to get involved with your local senior community or would like to share any tips, advice, or words of encouragement to my community, please feel free to comment!

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