December 2, 2022
If there are words and phrases that would always be innately tied to a pandemic, “social distancing” would arguably be one of them. It’s necessary to the point of becoming inevitable. All the more so in assisted living facilities where the residents belong in the high-risk category.
Of course, on the whole, one thing leads to another. With social distancing comes a greater risk for loneliness. What makes matters worse is that loneliness only makes seniors more vulnerable to common mental health issues like dementia and Alzheimer’s.
That being said, are residents in assisted living facilities more prone to loneliness during this pandemic? It’s a given that their families aren’t at their side. Let’s not ignore the opposite of that as well. Could senior assisted living facilities actually help curb loneliness among seniors? Let’s find out what the research says about these scenarios.
Almost all of us, regardless of age, experience loneliness at certain points in our lives because all human beings share what are so-called the different dimensions of loneliness.
We experience it because we lack the presence of a significant other or any beloved person or pet for that matter or do not have a small group or network of people with whom we share interests or perform activities together. More or less, the pandemic only magnifies these different dimensions since it requires a norm where people need to avoid as much physical contact as possible.
It’s a given that some of us experience this loneliness at varying degrees since some people actually prefer to be isolated or less social than most. However, one thing’s certain: no man is an island. We all yearn for meaningful social connections — with emphasis on meaningful.
That being said, it goes without saying then that an assisted living community is just as much a possible venue where loneliness might spring as a home or any other place for that matter. And much like a home and its residents can help one another in easing loneliness during a pandemic, assisted living services hold just about the same potential. Here’s why.
There are practically limitless opportunities for senior care facilities to stave off the feelings of isolation directly caused by the pandemic. We have present-day technology to thank for most of these benefits. At Lantern communities, these are but some of the ways we make good use of it to ensure our residents won’t be burdened by such negative feelings.
Whether through online platforms like Skype or Zoom, most facilities encourage and teach residents how to maintain communication with their families through video calls or text messaging. We even allow family members to visit with strict guidelines and safety protocols in place and encourage them to send cards or letters or other ways to express their love to them.
At Lantern, we put a high degree of trust in our staff, knowing that they’ll do their best to keep every resident company. Once a resident has shown, for instance, that he or she loves to be greeted by a staff with a “good morning” each day, then our employees will do their best to do so regularly. We don’t need to dictate to them what they should do to keep residents from feeling lonely.
Most assisted living facilities like Lantern also offers more personalized care. Almost always, this type of care is the most effective because it is not without its social benefits. It enriches the relationship between the patient and the caregiver. We value the bonds that form between our caregivers and their respective wards that come as a direct result of the said individualized care so we tailor our services based on them.
Our programs naturally encourage people to connect with one another through doing leisurely activities, fitness classes, wellness programs, besides through the cultural, social, and educational events we host. At the same time, we make sure that these activities are as meaningful as possible. They either impart better insights and knowledge or help the residents establish better bonds through shared interests or simply give them the freedom to talk about themselves.
That being said, any assisted living community should ensure that there would be zero risks of disease transmission in any of these group activities. At Lantern, we make sure that every member of the community is tested regularly to mitigate the risk of transmission, and we have a limit on the number of people that can perform group activities together.
Boredom and loneliness often go together. This is why we make sure to always encourage them to take part in our activities through our unique programs. Whether our residents have dementia or simply require day-to-day assistance, they can expect to experience not only activities that will keep them from being lonely and bored but something altogether new, to the point that it will be instantly embedded as a precious memory in their minds.
We ensure this through our care plans, which we let our residents modify and choose according to what they deem to be the best for themselves. We give them all the freedom they need because, in the end, anything that is done without your own free will or enthusiasm won’t end up being fulfilling, to the point that you’ll want to do it again. In the end, it will only alienate residents more.
Loneliness is bound to affect anyone regardless of where he or she may be. But as long as feelings of familial and deep social connection remain, whether formed through bonds established in senior care facilities or loved ones keeping in touch, loneliness never really lingers and takes root.
Assisted living communities are social collectives, fertile lands where seeds of familial bonds and camaraderies can be sown and maintained, and no amount of distance can hinder them.