They Keep Residents Engaged—Even in a Pandemic

 In Blog

I help Glenmeadow raise awareness about its programs and services through press releases we send to the media and blogs on the life plan community’s website. Glenmeadow is innovative and stands out in the region in enhancing the lives of older adults. I wrote the following blog to showcase efforts staff took during the pandemic to make sure residents did not feel isolated; Glenmeadow was recognized for this creative work by LeadingAge Massachusetts at its annual meeting recently.

Older adults choose to live here at Glenmeadow in large part for the socialization and varied, unique programming we offer. Our residents enjoy everything from in-house movies and theater offerings to a fitness center and swimming pool to games of cards, Scrabble, and Mahjong.

Then, last March, along came a pandemic—a new coronavirus that causes the upper respiratory disease COVID-19. Our residents were all at risk. We thought first about protecting them, and we followed the directives to isolate those who live here, providing for them in their individual apartments.

The very essence of Glenmeadow was unequivocally altered, but only for a moment. Well aware that social isolation is as damaging to older adults as smoking cigarettes, we quickly reinvented what it means to engage, to play, to learn, and have fun. 

Our staff and residents have deep connections, and they missed us. So, we piped the sound of an old-fashioned ice-cream cart approaching into speakers in our hallways, and we delivered ice cream as they waited in their doorways. We made a chain of staff throughout the halls, and we sang to our residents. We recorded ourselves, singing songs. We made a video to show residents how we were boxing their meals, delivering the mail, and wearing face shields and other Personal Protective Equipment.

It was a hard time, and we wanted residents to know we were still here for them. 

Our residents also love to expand their minds. They missed learning. So, we created opportunities for educational enrichment. We used our in-house television station, Channel 918, to provide all kinds of programming. Our staff members performed. Another created what we called the First Lady Series, in which we presented U.S. history in a video platform. We offered trivia games, word games, Bingo, Jeopardy, and our popular Scrabble games via a giant board we created and projected on the wall.

For our residents who enjoy keeping fit, we provided exercise classes on Channel 918.

The strength of our staff came through, loud and clear—as it always does. The pandemic made us stronger as a team, and we continued to bolster our residents in all ways. There was an outpouring of thanks and gratitude. 

We put our own lives at risk, as a staff. We showed up, and we gave it our all because that is what we do. We care. We support. We help.

We excel at keeping older adults active, no matter what. Many family members often tell us that we extend the lives of their loved ones, and as evidence, we have five centenarian residents who have lived here for decades, and one Glenmeadow at Home client who will turn 100 in November. 

Thelma Brewster is 105. Over the years, she has been a volunteer, helping residents in assisted living with varies activities and reading aloud to them. She has enjoyed crafts, and getting her hair done once a week.

Mort Katz, 100, makes hand-made bookmarks and cards for his friends at Glenmeadow and enjoys catching up with the daily newspaper in the Glenmeadow library.

Shirley Akerman recently celebrated her 100th birthday with an a cappella performance of “Happy Birthday” by attendees at one of our pandemic-friendly, socially-distanced, al fresco bistro dinners.

Louise Nathan turned 100 at the end of September. She ran our book club for many years and is knowledgeable about current events and politics. She continues to enjoy the mind-sharpening programming offered daily in both socially-distanced venues here and streamed into her apartment on Channel 918.

Vivian Schoenman, also 100, was a huge part of our annual bazaar, as she made many crafts in her apartment. A resident for 22 years, she also enjoys watching entertainment programming on Channel 918.

Stanley Melvin is a centenarian who lives in a condo in Longmeadow and receives services through Glenmeadow at Home. He and his wife, Jean, appreciate the caring we provide.

We are here to enhance your life, whether you are sixty or eighty or over 100.

We will protect your health and your heart, whether our smiles are exposed or covered under masks and face shields.

We are Glenmeadow Strong, in a pandemic—and always.

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