How Our Senior Community Thrives Despite the Difficulties of 2020
How has our community changed this year?
Due to COVID, many senior living communities have reduced the number of opportunities in which residents can engage with each other. Throughout 2020, independent living and residential care community Autumn Ridge Residences has promoted meaningful interactions between Herculaneum seniors and associates while maintaining social distancing and other effective safety protocols.
Why do we continue to organize fun activities and events?
Seniors—especially those who have lost their sense of social connection due to restrictive responses to the pandemic—are more likely to develop depression, a profound sense of sadness or anxiety that does not go away for at least several weeks. This is the most common mental health disorder experienced by the elderly.
Depression may manifest itself in one’s actions as irritability, loss of interest in one’s favorite hobbies, difficulty concentrating or remembering, or insomnia as well as over-sleeping. It is associated with a greater risk of medical conditions and a decreased likelihood of rehabilitation.
There are several types of depression; Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), for example, is often seen in seniors during the winter months.
Those with SAD often have reduced activity of serotonin, a chemical responsible for mood regulation. On average, they also create too much melatonin, which regulates the sleep-wake cycle by causing sleepiness at certain times of the day. Vitamin D, which is found in sunlight, food, and supplements, may also play a role in the disorder because it encourages serotonin activity. Vitamin D levels predictably tend to drop during the winter months when most people receive less sunlight.
Together, all of these factors can contribute to you or your loved one’s inability to adapt to a dark and potentially lonely winter. In addition to providing a detailed schedule of activities focusing on your unique interests, which may include crafts, games, fitness, or technology, Autumn Ridge Residences offers scheduled transportation to medical appointments for residents who need the help of mental health professionals.
How do we keep our residents engaged?
Our residents have enjoyed decorating their community space for the holiday season; we recently brought in a Christmas tree that they have embellished with lights, ribbon, and lifelike ornaments resembling colorful flowers.
We have also encouraged our Herculaneum seniors to express their creativity by assembling their own crafts; they have carefully designed and constructed seasonal items such as angel ornaments, wreaths, and hats. To promote their efforts, help them find inspiration from their peers, and offer beautiful Christmas gifts, we recently organized a Resident & Staff Craft Show.
Although Christmas only arrives once each year, we celebrate each resident’s birthday year-round with cake, balloons, and colorful props.