Assisted living facilities are finding new ways to interact with their residents to help keep the seniors from feeling isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Ridgemere Senior Living center has hosted hallway bingo nights to keep its residents engaged. The staff has also organized a drive-thru egg hunt event the public is encouraged to take part in now through Sunday.
Elizabeth “Liz” Molica, the facility’s lifestyles coordinator, said the center’s residents have enjoyed preparing for the egg hunt.
Being forced to think outside the box to keep residents from feeling lonely while their families are quarantined has allowed the caretaker to form deeper relationships with the seniors she serves, Molica told the Log Cabin Democrat. Getting ready for the community event allowed her to spend more one-on-one time with the residents.
“As a lifestyle coordinator, I am always learning about the interests my residents have and what makes them happy. It’s been especially touching during this chaotic time that I have grown closer to many residents. Just this week, one of my residents colored pictures of eggs to be posted for the egg hunt,” Molica said, adding that resident Betty Wilson was excited to pose with one of the eggs to have her picture featured in the Log Cabin. “We had a lot of good laughs getting just the right picture. It was a moment I will treasure forever.”
The drive-thru egg hunt went live Thursday and will be available for the public to see from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. everyday through Easter Sunday.
Organizers said this activity boasts a three-fold mission of:
Encouraging residents to worship through Easter weekend
Providing an interactive, socially-distanced activity for local families
Bringing joy to Ridgemere residents
Participants are encouraged to interact with staff by responding to the iSPY questions related to the egg hunt for a chance to win either 20 rolls of toilet paper or a $25 Walmart gift card. The i-Spy questions are posted on the group’s Facebook event page.
The lifestyles coordinator said she hopes the community will participate in the egg hunt and that it brings families joy.
“Every egg that I hung, I thought to myself, ‘I hope this brings some kind of joy to the residents of Ridgemere and to the families that drive through our community,’” she said. “I really don’t know what to expect from this idea, but I pray that parents take advantage of using this crazy little idea of mine and put it to good use as an educational field trip or a fun escape from the ‘new’ home school setting.”
As the facility follows the guidelines handed down by the Arkansas Healthcare Association and the Arkansas Assisted Living Association amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, Molica said that Ridgemere employees are working hard to ensure residents do not feel isolated.
“As a way of boosting morale, we hare hosting weekly dress-up days where our core staff runs a lively parade down the hallways encouraging the elders to sit at their front doors to enjoy the music and shenanigans [and to] get a good laugh and some much-needed interaction,” she said. “In addition, we have a weekly library cart that delivers books to our readers; we provide social media visits with families utilizing community iPads; and we have also been hosting Hallway Bingo and doorway stretches every week.”
Though the COVID-19 outbreak has changed the way the facility runs on a daily basis, Molica said Ridgemere staff and its residents are holding strong and finding unique ways to encourage one another.
“Everything is having to be don differently right now,” Molica told the Log Cabin. “But, here at Ridgemere, we are still creatively celebrating birthdays, helping residents tune in to online church services, [and are] encouraging physical health and mental well-being by keeping everyone active doing the things that they love in a safe and healthy way.”