Senior Living

• Controlled Entry Buildings • Community Rooms • Laundry Rooms • Inside Mailboxes • Elevator Within Building Call Now To Reserve Your New Apartment Home & Become A Part Of This Friendly Community & enjoy… These apartments let you enjoy the beauty and delight of senior living without the worry of yard work or home maintenance. GRANDVIEW APARTMENTS FOR SENIORS 62+ 3423 Kelly Street • Grand Island (308) 382-6163 • Rent Based On Income • Individual Heating & Air Conditioning • 24 Hour Emergency Maintenance An Independent Lifestyle With You In Mind! Small Pets Welcome THURSDAY, JULY 16, 2020 The Grand Island Independent www.theindependent.com senior LIVING 5A There’s no one approach to keep seniors safe and happy By Dale Miller dale.miller@theindependent.com For assisted living facilities, keeping resi- dents healthy and safe during the coronavirus pandemic has been a priority. Limiting access inside buildings to only resi- dents and employees, and an even greater emphasis on sanitization, are steps toward preventing the spread of COVID-19. But there are other negative effects caused by the pandemic. Without family members or friends being allowed inside the facilities, residents can suffer from loneliness and depression. Even if their physical health isn’t affected by the pandemic, their mental health can be. For four months, assisted living facilities have found sometimes creative and unique ways to help their residents through these trying times. One of the most important things to remember is that there is no one correct approach for helping all of the seniors at a facility. Darcy Hansen, direc- tor of Bickford Senior Living of Grand Island, said helping each resident on a case-by-case basis has been extremely important. “Here at Bickford, we do a great job of trying to think outside the box,” she said. “We help each resident by relating to their needs individually. “One resident could have memory issues and not even know how long (the pandemic) has been going on or understand COVID-19.” While planning individual activities to help its residents, Bick- ford also regularly plans larger yet safe events. It did just that for special days that occurred during the pandemic such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. For Mother’s Day, Bickford hosted a unique social distancing event for the moms among its residents. “We had a tea party, which was very special,” Hansen said. “Residents spent time at the window on their cellphone with their tea and cookies, and their family could sit outside the window with their own plate of cookies that they brought.” Tonya Van Pelt, executive director of Primrose Retirement Community of Grand Island, said a variety of activities that are held outdoors has been an important aid in helping residents deal with the current situation. “We do outdoor music and create activities each week,” she said. “We have an outdoor church service — either Catholic Mass or other denominations. During tough times, it is important to look at the spiritual aspect of it. “We are able to spread out and everyone wears masks. We’re appreciative of the outdoor entertain- ment and religious leaders who have helped out.” Van Pelt said the bands and musicians perform once for the residents of the community’s apart- ments and once for the assisted-living residents. Brainstorming and staying creative has been an important component to keeping residents active. “We have an amazing team here,” said Deb Quick, community director at Bickford Senior Living. “Our LEC (life enrichment coordina- tor Crystal Trejo) keeps the residents busy with different activities and theme days. We had a camping day with smores and a bonfire. “You look at what residents have lost throughout their life. Some have memory loss. We want to offer them opportunities that they have enjoyed.” Some of the activities are focused toward the careers or hobbies that residents loved. On Monday, the Nebraska Trucking Association came to the facility with semitrucks to allow residents to take a look and enjoy a presen- tation. Residents also could see the presentation on TV screens inside. Future events include Italian Day and Grandpar- ents Night. Keeping residents physically active also has been a focus. “We make sure that each individual resident gets out for a walk every day and aren’t just sitting in their apartment,” Van Pelt said. “We still have our smaller group activities like exercise class with one person per table.” With face-to-face visits not allowed for most of the pandemic, technology aided in helping residents stay in touch with family members. “We purchased new equipment for Zoom meetings or FaceTime,” Hansen said. “They have bigger screens for when they are looking at family members. It’s also easily portable technology, so the families can visit with our residents in their apartments.” Making sure that residents easily could see their family members on video calls was something that Primrose made sure could occur. “A lot of residents use Zoom calls and Face- Time,” Van Pelt said. “They can use our movie screen so they can see each other. Once our outdoor visits began, those have gone down.” As the coronavirus numbers declined in Hall County and regulations were eased up, outdoor visits were allowed at facilities that hadn’t had any cases of COVID-19, which includes both Bickford and Primrose. Residents and visitors still must remain 6 feet away, wear masks and can’t touch — which is an emotional roller coaster for family to be prevented from giving a much- needed hug — but those interactions have been a boost for many of the seniors. Being able to make eye contact that isn’t on a screen or through a window is more than welcomed. “It was very emo- tional,” Hansen said. “All five senses are so import- ant, and not being able to use all of them is difficult. But once we went to the next stage, we were able to have our residents meet family members outside while staying 6 feet apart.” Primrose started allowing those visits the third week of June. “That helps cheer people up,” Van Pelt said. “We take things for granted, like being able to see our loved ones.” Independent/Barrett Stinson LEFT: Resident Rose Knehans is in a festive mood during a June drive-thru parade for CountryHouse Residence residents in Grand Island. CENTER: Ree Walker waves to members of her family during a drive-thru parade for CountryHouse Residence residents. 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