Assisted living residents keep active during pandemic

Coronavirus

Zoom, gardening, hallway exercise, drive-by visits

MILWAUKIE, Ore. (KOIN) — When you’re requested to wear a face mask or avoid going out into crowds, part of the reason why is to prevent the virus from spreading among the most vulnerable among us living in senior care facilities.

Most of the elderly are closed off from most physical contact with the outside world — but that does not mean nothing’s going on.

At the Homewood Heights assisted living facility in Milwaukie, the good times still roll even though regular contact with the outside world is cut off.

On Cinco de Mayo, the residents wore sombreros and had margaritas. The caregivers need to think outside the box to come up with things to keep people engaged, active and in contact with others.

“Most of the time I just tell my residents if you want to do something today, if you don’t want to do this or if you want to do something else, just tell me and we’ll do whatever you want to do,” said Carmen Arreola, the Homewood Heights Assisted Living Life Enrichment Director. “Just to keep them happy and see a smile on their faces.”

Many of the 40 or so residents at Homewood Heights are keeping in contact with relatives using Zoom for the first time.

Though it’s not the real thing, it is contact with kids and grandkids made possible with online video chat functions.

Outdoor gardening on a sunny day allows people to enjoy their lifelong love of getting their hands dirty — at a safe distance from one another.

There’s also been real enthusiasm for hallway exercise, getting the floor residents together for a workout without leaving the shadow of your own doorway.

At another Prestige Senior living facility in Auburn, Washington, they see their relatives by giving an entirely new meaning to the phrase drive by.

The goal in all of this activity is to provide as much engagement as possible to keep the most vulnerable among us alive and well as the pandemic stretches on.

Continuing Coverage: Coronavirus

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