The Arbor Company Senior Living Blog

Transitioning to Senior Living Amidst a Pandemic

Oct 7, 2020 12:08:21 PM / Chris Harper Chris Harper

Many seniors seek the amenities, care, and lifestyle offered by senior living, but are hesitant to make the move because of safety or health concerns. This is the topic we will explore in our next Senior Living LIVE webinar, with special guest, Dr. Jamie Brodarick. 

As a preview of the full-length webinar scheduled on October 13, Melissa Lee sat down with Dr. Brodarick to discuss some of the concerns seniors and their families are experiencing in regard to senior living, including the need for engagement, and how to determine if a community is a safe environment for you or your loved one. 

Click the video below to watch the preview. To register for the full webinar, please visit www.ArborCompany.com/Transition

 

Video Transcript 

- Hello, everyone, and welcome into "Senior Living LIVE." My name is Melissa and today I have a fantastic guest joining me, Dr. Jamie Brodarick. Jamie, how are you this afternoon?

- I'm well, how are you?

- I am doing fantastic. Thank you for joining us. You will be our guest speaker for our webinar on October 13th, 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time. And our subject is one that I think we're all talking about right now, transitioning to senior living amidst a pandemic, whether it's a loved one that may need assistance in senior living or somebody who's looking for senior living in general, certainly a hot topic at this point. What should I do? What shouldn't I do? And I know that you have extensive experience in senior living. Before we talk about the pandemic, I do want to hear from you the sort of trends that you have noticed with our senior community from a psychological standpoint from say, the last three years or so.

- Sure. So one of the trends that I am seeing is the increased desire and need for socialization. And without that, I see an increase in depression, an increase in anxiety, and an increase in cognitive decline as well. We, our seniors, they crave stimulation, they crave and connection with other people, and meaningful activities.

- Sure. So now moving to the pandemic and we've been going through this and living with this for many months now. So in what ways over the course of time since March, have you seen the pandemic affect our seniors and senior living in general?

- So those three factors that I mentioned, the anxiety, depression symptoms, and loneliness or isolation, and cognitive decline. Since the beginning of COVID, I have seen an increase in the number of cases that I'm seeing, the number of families that are really at a loss without proper outlets for their loved ones to have those activities. If they're living currently outside of a community setting, the family is really tasked with trying to meet all of those needs and, you know, keep them engaged. And that's a very difficult thing to do when you're juggling work responsibilities, maybe some of you have children. So it really becomes a very difficult thing because those things aren't happening.

- Sure. Well, if somebody's watching and they say, "Look, you know, my mom or my dad has been an introvert their entire lives. You know, why do they need engagement? Why do they need to be around other people?" What would you say to that?

- Well, we're all a spectrum of introversion and extroversion, right? And they call those people right in the middle of ambiverts who like a little bit of both. And so what I would say to that is, that's fine. One of the things that I do know, the research shows that it increases things like symptoms of dementia and exacerbates and really expedites the process. And so without proper stimulation and without some socialization, feelings of loneliness, so it's nice to, right, have that option. If you do want to talk with people, I'm not saying you have to spend a large amount of time doing that, but the concern I have are for seniors living alone and no one really having eyes on them and seeing, is there a change in condition? You know, how are they handling this? If family doesn't live close and no one's in a close enough proximity to check on them regularly, then my concern is, you know, are they getting what they need? Even the strongest introverts need social relationships to thrive and also to maintain safety. So that would be my rebuttal to that.

- Yeah, and I mean, and the research is there. I mean, we've had seven months now to look at it and it seems that COVID-19 and the lockdowns have exasperated that cognitive decline, as you mentioned. So the research definitely backs that up. Now, Jamie, making that move to senior living, as you know, is a huge decision for most people. It might be the biggest decision that they ever make for themselves and if you're a loved one, having to make that decision for someone else, it's just as difficult. What should be added to that checklist right now?

- Mm hm. So currently, those needs that we talked about earlier and even physical needs, if we're gonna add that, if someone needs additional care and support, that doesn't go away. And it becomes about how can we safely and most efficiently meet this person's needs. So when considering the transition to a senior living community, you of course want to find out what skill, what services, what support will be offered and what are the accommodations and how are you modifying how you deliver these programs and services in order to maximize safety and reduce risks. So asking questions like, okay, what currently, what are the visiting policies? What are the activities that are offered and opportunities to engage? And again, how are you doing that and protecting them at the same time? And so the other thing I would think about too, is, you know, asking about screening and staffing. There are gonna be policies and protocols that are needed to be to adhered to because of licensing standards, but really asking that community in particular, "What are you doing to minimize risk and also maintain quality of life?" Because I think what we tend to forget is looking at a person holistically. That there are, you know, physical needs and we wanna keep them safe and healthy and reduce exposure to COVID. However, mental health is very important too. And so are emotional needs. So we can't really totally dismiss those other things because we think something is more important. We really have to treat the person holistically.

- Yeah, and I mean, listen, it's never an easy time to make that decision, to make the transition into senior living. But if your reasoning for maybe not pushing the button now is because of the pandemic, as we have seen, the shelf life here of COVID-19 has outlasted everyone's expectations. We're in month seven. No signs of slowing down yet. But needs still have to be met, yes?

- Yes, definitely. And the question that I would pose, you know, is since these needs don't go away and they exist, and that is one of the reasons that families are prompted or people are prompted to look into senior care options, you have to really consider, how am I meeting those needs at home and at what cost? So if it's exacerbating anxiety and feelings of sadness and isolation, and it is really expediting the disease process of cognitive decline, you really consider, you know, how are you really able to mitigate risks, given all of that? And if, whether you're having a service provider come into your home or you're having to leave your home and take your loved one to something like the senior center, they're going to have exposure. So I think that's one of the more common things families talk to me about is they're just very concerned about communal living right now. And my response is always, there is risk no matter what you're exposing yourself to, and I think weighing the pros and the cons and the risk and benefits, that's a really important thing to do. And I would love to be able to offer some insight on doing that.

- Yeah, well, you've already offered some insight today before your webinar. Excellent advice so far. And for those of you watching, not only will you get to hear more from Jamie for her webinar, but you'll also be able to ask her some questions. So you certainly want to tune in. "Transitioning to Senior Living Amidst a Pandemic." That is the name of the webinar. October 13th is the day, the time 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time. And of course our guest, Dr. Jamie Brodarick. Jamie, thank you so much for joining me today.

- You're welcome. Thank you.

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Topics: Senior Living LIVE

Chris Harper

Chris Harper

As the vice president of communications for The Arbor Company, Chris is responsible for digital marketing, public relations, technology and design.

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