Holiday Retirement communities have always been about connection. There’s remarkable joy and peace of mind knowing there’s always a neighbor to visit, staff to help, and a community of caring people to support you. While there’s no question these days of physical distancing have been challenging, many of our residents tell us they’re immensely grateful to be living in a Holiday Retirement community during this time, where they feel supported, cared for, and safe. We’re still about connection. The words “Holiday family” have never meant as much or been as true as they are now. In this incredibly abnormal time, our strength as a family has risen to a level that is beyond exceptional.
Here are just some examples of the ways we’re staying connected during this time:
Residents may not be able to participate in regularly scheduled group activities, but we’re bringing the fun to them. Our resourceful and creative staff are keeping residents entertained and engaged right outside their doorways, which are at least 6 feet apart and perfect for physical distancing. Doorway bingo is heating up at Curtis Creek as residents compete for raffle tickets and candy bars. Hallway Happy Hour is a huge hit at Edgewood Downs, where residents love raising a glass with their neighbors. Oakwood Hills residents are enjoying chair exercises twice a day, and The Jefferson residents are glad their Easter tradition was alive and well when they all received a visit and bag of treats from the Easter Bunny.
Music is good for the soul. Research shows that listening to music can help lower the risk of depression and anxiety in older adults who are at greater risk for these conditions, especially during challenging times. We’re so grateful for the local musicians that have brought cheer to Holiday Retirement community residents with outdoor performances they can enjoy from balconies, patios, and windows. From a backyard gospel concert at Jackson Meadow and an outdoor Elvis concert at Birch Heights, to backdoor serenades at Dogwood Terrace and courtyard country tunes at Fox Run Estates, we keep our residents tapping their toes and singing along to songs.
As part of physical-distancing requirements, residents are taking meals in their apartments. While nothing compares to the in-person connection residents experience in our restaurant-style dining rooms, Holiday independent living community associates are making meal and snack delivery a fun occasion that residents look forward to. Residents never know if they’ll open their doors to find a “singing snack cart” parading down the hall, lunch delivered by associates in funny costumes, or goody bags tucked in alongside their meals. The creativity around mealtime gives both associates and residents a good laugh and something different to chat about during these exchanges.
We’re doing everything we can to keep residents and their loved ones connected during this time. Residents are receiving handouts on how to use various video chat platforms, and we’re helping facilitate virtual visits by answering technical questions and contacting loved ones as needed.
Some of our residents have been enjoying our Bridging Generations Program, which connects them with volunteers through phone calls, Skype, or email. Our hope is these relationships will continue to blossom with in-person visits after the COVID-19 pandemic passes.
Holiday Retirement residents receive a community newsletter filled with crossword puzzles, word searches, trivia, jokes, comic strips, sheltering-in-place wellness tips, and stories every day. Though The Daily Mail was started by our independent living community associates, residents have begun providing much of the content. They love to submit short stories, jokes, ideas for activities, and see their submissions credited to their name in the paper.
Theme days have always been popular at Holiday senior living communities. Staff and residents are continuing this fun tradition while they shelter in place. Favorite theme days so far have included “Black & White” day at Winter Village, complete with black and white outfits, and a decorated snack cart serving chocolate and vanilla drumstick ice cones. Residents at Indigo Pines were particularly fond of the “Day at the Beach” theme day, featuring beach attire, beach music, beach balls, creamsicles, and lots of laughs. “Rainbow Day” at The Marquette was a cheery affair complete with a scavenger hunt and rainbow toys for the winners. It’s always fun to see what kinds of theme days the communities’ come up with.
Research shows that gratitude helps people cope better with difficult circumstances, regulate emotions, and build resilience. There’s no shortage of gratitude around here. From thank you notes and window signs, to goody bags and poems, residents and associates are finding ways to keep the gratitude flowing freely through our senior living communities, and it feels great. Staff members' hearts are warmed with the abundance of gratitude from residents and their family members. Residents are feeling the love as well with letters of encouragement and gratitude from staff who have such an appreciation for residents’ resilience, positivity, and kind words during this challenging time.
We like to laugh around here, and that hasn’t changed. Besides hilarious hallway happenings, we’re getting silly outside of residents’ windows and balconies for some chuckles. Aurora Pond residents look forward to T-Rex Tuesdays, where their resident experience coordinator dresses up as“Rexie” the t-rex, and breaks out into dancing, twirling, juggling, and other antics. Balcony balloon toss is a big hit at The Gardens of Wakefield, where residents throw balloons from their balconies into REC-held buckets to the music of Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.” Shads Landing senior living community residents loved the silly costumes and dancing outside their windows when associates teamed up with Legacy Healthcare and Bayada to bring some cheer.
COVID-19 doesn’t stop milestones from happening. We’re making sure special occasions don’t go unnoticed. Our staff are finding creative ways to help residents commemorate occasions like birthdays and anniversaries. Isles of Vero Beach independent living community wasn’t able to hold their usual birthday bashes, so they surprised associates and residents with flowers, balloons, and treats. Augustine Landing associates prepared a surprise 60th wedding anniversary celebration for two residents. The lovebirds visited with family and enjoyed a private anniversary meal prepared by the senior living community’s chef. The Tremont commemorated their head housekeeper’s 13th anniversary at Holiday with cake and fun decorations that paid tribute to her reputation as the “crazy sock and hat lady” around campus. These are just some examples of how we’re making physical distancing festive.
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