If you have a loved one who lives in a retirement community, you know how stressful this time has been. COVID-19 has caused many Americans to worry about the health of their parents, grandparents, and friends in senior living facilities. At the Pennybyrn,, we have mitigated these worries by focusing on two main priorities. Number one is keeping our residents and staff safe, and doing everything possible to keep our facilities coronavirus free. But just as important is keeping our residents active, as mental and physical stimulation is vital to their long-term health.
To maintain social distancing, the Pennybyrn staff has gotten creative to make sure our assisted living and healthcare household residents are engaged and healthy. Here are a few of the events and activities that have been highlights during this time.
Mother’s Day and Father’s Day Parades — You may have seen our car parades for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day featured on WGHP 8 News. Both parades were heartwarming experiences that helped skilled nursing residents see their loved ones from a safe distance. On Mother’s Day, residents sat outside as over 88 decorated vehicles (including two fire crews and two police officers) circled campus to show their support. We saw more than 120 cars for Father’s Day! There were many tears of joy among the families in cars, the residents, and Pennybyrn staff.
“It was fantastic! I got to see my kids and I got my picture in the paper which made me feel special. There were so many people that responded that it was heartwarming and overwhelming at the same time. My daughters counted the cars and it was over 100!.” – Pat Cain, Resident
Regular Video Calls — Thankfully, we live in a time where technology makes it easier to stay connected to loved ones. Pennybyrn has purchased multiple new iPads for each area of the community and staff regularly assist residents with video calling their families.
“It has been difficult on many residents not being able to have family visit, so we have had many Zoom and FaceTime calls with families. One thing I planned that was a big hit was scheduling surprise Zoom calls with families the weekend of Mother’s Day. It has meant so much to the families and residents to be able to video chat, and for me, that is so rewarding. It is very humbling being able to make a difference every day.” –Jennifer Ballance, Life Enhancement Coordinator, Assisted Living
Virtual Art Classes — While some of our physical enrichment classes have been postponed, we’ve discovered exciting online opportunities for residents to enjoy. Using the iPads, residents are led through a 30-minute class and get to create beautiful works of art for their living spaces.
“The art classes are such a good interaction between the residents, staff, and our instructor. We just laugh and giggle about our masterpieces. They are great medicine for healing, helping us to expand our minds and become a better person as we gain more knowledge. I just love the interaction.” -Sara Graeub, Resident
Hallway Bingo — Our residents love Bingo, and with a little adjustment, we’ve been able to continue playing. Residents sit in the doorways of their assisted living apartments while staff members call out the numbers. Winners get to select prizes from a mobile wagon filled with fun gifts.
Regular Movement — Social distancing shouldn’t be the cause of sedentary behavior. Our residents continue to do activities that allow for social distancing, including balloon tennis, chair stretches, and more.
Planting & Harvesting — Vitamin D is an excellent immune booster, and many of our residents have enjoyed getting out on warm sunny days to plant flowers and vegetables in our gardens. Gardening is proven to have a positive effect on mental health as well.
“I look forward every day to going outside and checking on the plants, especially the tomatoes. Have you ever heard of the saying, ‘You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy?’ Well, I am a country boy and I enjoy being outside and reaping the reward of growing. “-Glenn Stafford, Resident
Delicious Treats — Assisted living residents got to experience the excitement of hearing the ice cream truck coming down the street when a mobile dessert truck visited campus. We have also added special snacks and foods in addition to our regular menu. For example, our McEwen Memory Support Household has enjoyed a different flavor of homemade ice cream each day. Congdon House is always baking fresh goodies in their kitchen.
If you have a loved one who resides at Pennybyrn, we hope this blog has provided comfort that they are enjoying an active and safe lifestyle throughout this pandemic. If you would like to learn more about the Pennybyrn community, we invite you to explore our options for senior living and care today. See what makes our community unique and feel free to call us to learn more.