The past months have been among the most challenging for everyone around the world; yet none more than for our senior population. The affects of COVD-19 and the protective measures taken to combat it are still being accounted for, but there are signs of a return to normalcy. 

Most states have lifted restrictions on visitation for seniors in assisted and independent living facilities. However, these visits will come with guidelines. In some cases, only the designated family member or caretaker is permitted to visit, and temperature checks, reserved times, protective masks and other protocols will continue in most cases for the foreseeable future. Still, it is an additional way to stay connected to the ones we love.

During the lockdown and days that followed, people became creative with ways to let their loved ones know they were in the hearts and minds of friends and families. From window serenades, to hand-written and designed cards, to video chats and calls, family members and friends reached out and showed they cared. While the health crisis persists, the staff and “families” within the facilities have shown their creative caring as well. Door to door activities, virtual events, socially-distanced-ice-cream-socials – anything that can be safely done to put a smile on our seniors’ faces during these challenging times is happening.

Friends and families wishing to reach out or to visit can do their part following important guidelines for the safety and health of everyone.

1. Communicate with the facility. Find out ahead of time what requirements they have for visits and safety procedures.

2. Send a card. Handmade cards show loved ones that the most valuable commodity in life – time – has been spent thinking of them.

3. Use technology. There are now numerous platforms to call or video chat with each other using accessible and affordable technology. If a beloved senior is not familiar with the device or procedure, ask one of the providers at the facility to assist. These face-to-face chats can lighten the hearts and bring smiles to everyone. And while it is not ideal, virtual visits are the next best way to have quality time together without risking the health and wellbeing of anyone.

Independent living facilities have never served a more vital role in the lives of our senior community. They have been the gatekeepers, protectors and monitors of our loved ones who have been most at risk during this health crisis. They will continue to serve as a haven for the residents and as an intermediary between them and the people they hold dear. Together, we can keep them happy and safe in this ever-changing world.