We’re living in worrisome times as we all deal with the effects of COVID-19. Seniors, as we’ve learned, are in one of the highest risk groups, so it’s natural that there is a strong focus on how to keep them safe. Adding to the concerns, the myths and rumors about how this pandemic is impacting retirement communities seem to grow daily.
If you’re a resident in a senior living community or have a loved one there, it’s helpful to have information that’s been vetted by experts. What follows are 6 important facts about retirement communities and COVID-19 here in Pennsylvania. These may provide some reassurance for residents and families, as well as potential residents and their adult children.
How Retirement Communities Are Taking Precautions
In reviewing the facts about retirement communities and their response to the pandemic, it’s clear that reputable, well-managed retirement communities like Friendship Village of South Hills are doing all they can to ensure the safety of residents and staff, as well as visitors. As many communities move into reopening phases, it’s true that some of the initial “protection bubbles” have loosened, but serious measures continue to be taken to ensure disease control and prevention.
Hygiene and Sanitation: First and foremost is continued strict adherence to COVID-19 safety guidelines and phasing-in protocols established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as state and local governments. These include public health practices for social distancing, wearing of face masks, hand-washing, and cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched public surfaces like desks, elevator doors/buttons and phones. Your community’s team members are committed to keeping you safe using these enhanced cleaning and sanitation practices.
Visitor Management: In addition to sanitation and hygiene practices, the facts about retirement communities and COVID-19 also confirm there is continued and careful management of the visitor population. In many senior living communities, in addition to regular testing and temperature monitoring of team members and residents, visitors are also monitored for symptoms, and in many cases, visitation is limited to certain restricted areas only. For your peace of mind, it’s worth asking at your community how these precautions are being followed.
Common Space Safety: Public health guidelines are also advising retirement communities how to exercise caution when it comes to use of common spaces. While carefully following recommended safety protocols, some communities are beginning to reopen amenities such as salons, outdoor dining, libraries, fitness centers and pools, and are also allowing small group activities. Some are currently opening their doors to visitors as well. It’s important to note that because infection rates change often, there might be times when amenities have to shut down temporarily and visitors may not be allowed in. Be patient and understanding, and know that at Friendship Village of South Hills, everything we do is because we want to keep you as safe as possible.
Self-Protection: Whether you or a loved one is a nursing home resident, assisted living resident or is in long-term care, it’s important to know there are safety steps you can personally take to help limit exposure and the chance of contracting COVID-19, the flu, pneumonia, or anything else that can compromise your health. Above all, be sure to get your annual flu shot and pneumonia shot, and ask your physician about the new shingles vaccine. When the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, it will be important to get this shot as well to protect yourself for the future. Wear a mask anytime you’re in public, or if guests come to visit, and wash your hands frequently. Be sure to allow the community’s housekeeping service to do a thorough cleaning of your apartment regularly.
Attention to Mental Health: It’s understood and concerning that long periods of isolation take their toll on people, especially seniors. As the threat of infection ebbs and flows, communities like Friendship Village of South Hills are initiating creative ways to help residents virtually connect with one another and with families using technology. Zoom meetups, entertainment, speakers, and fitness classes on the community’s closed-circuit TV are among some of the solutions that keep loved ones socially in touch and mentally stimulated.
Speedy Response: As we’ve all observed over the last several months, the impact of COVID-19 is constantly evolving. Positivity rates rise and fall, then rise again, and it’s imperative that senior living communities be responsive to those changes. As a result, for example, visitation may be open for a few weeks and then be required to cease for a time. The same is true for the use of common spaces like dining rooms and fitness centers. Communities always have the best interests of residents and team members in mind, so any action that ensures their safety must be taken.
Learn More About COVID-19 Precautions at Friendship Village of South Hills
We know how important it is to your health and well-being to get the facts about retirement communities and COVID-19. Friendship Village of South Hills would be happy to chat with you and answer any questions you might have about how we’re responding to the pandemic and what precautions and safety measures we’re taking to keep everyone safe. Feel free to give us a call at 724.941.3100, or complete the form at the bottom of this page and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.