Helping Seniors Cope with COVID-19

By Lorraine Aiken

One of the ways senior living communities benefit our elder citizens is by providing fun activities as a way for them to connect with others through shared interests. These newfound friendships are something that residents don’t expect when moving in. “We didn’t know the people would be so wonderful here. Everyone is so warm and accepting,” said one senior living resident. Being surrounded by other people who are at a similar place in life and enjoy the same activities as you helps to combat the common feelings of isolation and loneliness that living in a standalone home may bring. Social programming has looked very different the past few months at the Lakes at Litchfield and other senior living communities, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the activities and connections among residents and staff have persevered.

Adapting Activities during COVID-19

CDC guidelines for proper social distancing have modified social events in senior living communities, and this change has spurred an eclectic array of new activities allowing seniors to socialize and engage with peers, family members and community supporters. It’s been a challenging road, but a rewarding one. “We’re bringing the programming to them. We are trying to keep a sense of normalcy throughout this time” says The Lakes at Litchfield’s Social Director, Lena Oncken. Their community has been participating in virtual programming with web links to various online entertainment and learning opportunities. In addition to virtual events, the community is engaging one-on-one with residents through themed happy hour cart deliveries, scavenger hunts, sightseeing rides, games and other small group activities to ensure that social distancing takes place. To stay connected with loved ones, The Lake’s team schedules and initiates video calls between residents and their loved ones so they have the opportunity to talk face-to-face.

A Full Schedule of Events

Lena is passionate about her position and engaging seniors in activities they’ll enjoy. “I tell everyone that I meet that I love my job, and my favorite part about it is our residents,” said Lena. “Getting to plan fun, exciting and new opportunities for residents and then experiencing it with them is the best!” Lena is in her second year of planning events for the community’s residents and keeps each resident in mind for the activities she plans. “I always want to make sure I’m reaching everyone’s interests and preferences in my programming, and that I have opportunities every day for them,” Lena added. On average, The Lakes at Litchfield hosts over 150 events and activities in a normal month which include guest speakers, club gatherings, games, happy hours, movie nights, historical site visits, river cruises, live entertainment, couples’ outings, holiday celebrations, wine tastings and more! In addition to daily events, her team plans a monthly Signature Experience. “The best part of our Signature Experiences is that it’s one full day dedicated to a fun theme that builds as the day goes on! Members enjoy participating in the events and ending the night with a delicious dining experience and a show; whether it’s a USO Tribute Concert or Hula Dancers in the courtyard!” For The Lakes at Litchfield, hosting a variety of events allows everyone to come together and socialize. Having a schedule of events to attend, and friends close by, assists elders in combating feelings of loneliness and isolation.

In the coming months as life continues to evolve at a measured pace, communities will continue experimenting with new activities while holding onto old favorites. Reunions will be met with fanfare and new memories will be made. After all, the best moments in life are made with friends and family.

About this writer

  • Lorraine Aiken

    Lorraine Aiken is Director of Social Media for Maxell Group, Inc., Senior Living Communities. The Lakes at Litchfield is a Continuing Care Retirement Community located in Pawleys Island. To learn more about The Lakes at Litchfield, call their Lifestyle Advisors at 843-353-6040 or visit www.Lakes-Litchfield.com

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