During COVID-19, we’ve all been called to socially distance to mitigate spread of the virus. For residents in our communities, this meant being unable to physically visit with their loved ones outside of the community for several months. While our communities are currently taking steps to re-implement visits with family and loved ones, many people are using alternative methods to maintain connections.
For our residents all across the country, technology has been key to keeping up communications with their loved ones. “All of our residents have been amazed at how technology has advanced,” said Memory Care Program Director at Bellarose Senior Living in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Jenifer Harris. “Every time they see their loved ones appear on a phone or computer screen, their faces immediately light up. It’s incredible how technology can help us even during a pandemic and bring joy in those moments.”
At all of our communities, we have communication stations set up and equipped with iPads where residents have the ability to schedule virtual visits with their loved ones via FaceTime or Skype. Our dedicated associates help our residents with the technology when needed. We see that technology is being embraced across the country in the senior living community and have enjoyed the opportunity to assist some of our residents in becoming more confident and comfortable using tech. More seniors have taken to social media to keep up with their families while they cannot connect in person, which has broadened their reach with grandchildren and out of state loved ones they were unable to connect with regularly even before.
The virtual connections haven’t stopped at maintaining family connections. Our residents at The Brennity at Vero Beach in Vero Beach, Florida enjoyed virtual visits with pet owners and their pets through an organization called Pets Together. Residents at The Brennity at Fairhope in Fairhope, Alabama attended a streamed church service from their childhood church from Germany. We’ve even had residents at Bristol Park at Cypress in Cypress, Texas utilize Universal Virtual Reality Goggles to listen to and watch an orchestra play Mozart’s “Coronation Mass.”
Local personalities have gotten in on the fun, too! Head coach of The University of Oklahoma’s women’s soccer program, Coach Mark Carr, recently played virtual bingo with our residents at The Veraden in Edmond, Oklahoma. Additionally, our residents at Lakeview at Josey Ranch recently played virtual bingo with former Texas Rangers pitcher, José Guzmán.
We cannot wait until we can invite everyone back into our communities safely, and while technology does not replace the hugs we miss from loved ones, we celebrate the opportunity to have a means of staying connected right now.