Isolation has been a huge problem facing senior living residents in the wave of COVID-19. Stephanie Lynn, like many others, has had to put her imagination to the test to come up with ways to battle isolation and keep residents connected, happy, and engaged.
Lynn has been at the Village at Belmar since the property opened in 2017 and has been in the industry since 2009, she cannot imagine doing anything else. When COVID-19 struck, Lynn had to revamp her activities since her usual routines were no longer possible. Her group in Independent Living is a very active bunch and her biggest concern was assuring that they didn’t fall victim to the loneliness and isolation that impacts seniors now more than ever before.
Utilizing technology has become a crucial part of Lynn’s plan to keep residents stimulated over the last few months and moving forward. Though this situation has been less than ideal, Lynn believes that a positive is that it provided a much-needed opportunity to teach residents the ins and outs of technology. By teaching residents how to use technology, they are able to stay connected and communicate not only with each other, but with friends and family outside the community as well.
One program Lynn has put in place is called Two for Tuesdays, where she collaborated with local businesses to get food and drink samples to distribute to all of the residents, and then they proceed to all join a group Zoom call and try the pairings together. The residents love to get online and come together to sample each weeks new tasty treats. The social engagement that Lynn’s events provide is extremely important in keeping moral up within the community.
The Village at Belmar is fortunate enough to be in an area with few COVID-19 cases, so Lynn and the rest of their team are able to plan socially distanced events with ten or less people as well. Every Wednesday night they have a movie night with a projector outside on campus. Lynn arranges distanced outdoor and driveway activities to allow for safe in-person interaction, one of her favorites being the small barbecue she hosts once a week. Residents have come to look forward to the weekly events whether they are online or in person, they are just eager to be involved and active in the community.
With the cold winter months approaching the Village at Belmar, located in Colorado, Lynn is already brainstorming creative programming ideas. Lynn plans on going to museums to take photos to provide a virtual tour experience for the residents. Her mission is how can she take what she was doing before, and make it virtual in some capacity. Mental stimulation is essential for seniors, without it they become depressed and isolated, which unfortunately leads to rapid health declines. To combat this, Lynn is constantly checking in on her residents, bringing them treats to their doors, assuring they know how to connect via technology, and creating options for them to socialize under the constantly changing guidelines.
Though she is unsure what the future brings, Lynn hopes there will be a silver lining soon. In the meantime, she plans to continue her creative programming endeavors to brighten the lives of the residents at the Village at Belmar.