For Cherokee County senior citizens who have been sheltering in place during the coronavirus pandemic, people within their support systems have been helping them feel less isolated despite physical distancing.
Staff at Cherokee County Senior Services heard from the families of some of their clients that the seniors were suffering from the isolation of sheltering in place, a virus-control policy implemented over the past several weeks.
“We had been delivering food to our seniors and calling to check in on them to see how they were doing,” said Cherokee County Senior Services Director Tim Morris. “We were recently contacted by several family members of our senior clients with concerns that loved ones were going downhill due to the lack of socialization. We put our heads together and decided to go out and do some entertaining, say hello and let them know we loved and missed them while maintaining safe social distancing measures.”
Senior Services staff members made signs filed with encouraging words and dressed in costumes while delivering donated items to their clients.
“We saw smiles and tears of joy, which brought us tears of joy knowing we could bring some light to their day with all that has been going on,” Morris said.
Cherokee County Senior Services currently delivers food and donated items to roughly 170 clients in the county either through the Meals on Wheels Program or through the Senior Center. They have recently received requests from more than 20 local seniors, who are not clients, seeking assistance with food that they are also helping. If you would like to donate, please contact Cherokee County Senior Services at 770-345-2675. Donation requests include word searches, crossword puzzles, playing cards and personalized cards with encouraging messages.
Senior living facilities have also been providing ways for residents to connect with each other and the outside world while staying at home and maintaining the recommended physical distance of 6 feet to reduce the chances of coronavirus infection.
On April 21 The Lodge at BridgeMill residents held a distannt “get-together” when they went out on their balconies and created a shiny spectacle by blowing soap bubbles into the air.
Meanwhile, The Arbor at BridgeMill held a parade to give its residents the opportunity to enjoy an interactive, outdoor event during the COVID-19 pandemic.
”We normally have happy hour on Mondays and Fridays from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., but because of the social distancing and quarantine we aren’t doing that right now,” Executive Director Jerry Rick said. “Our residents have adhered to our request to quarantine and, since the weather was going to be beautiful, we decide a parade would be a good thing for us to do.”
The procession included the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office, family members, volunteers, staff and community partners. They circled The Arbor community with hand-made signs of love and support in their cars. A Sammy Davis Jr. impersonator, accompanied by Minnie Mouse, provided the entertainment throughout the event, singing several hits from Davis’ career and other classic songs.
Residents watched the procession from their balconies, patios or from the front entrance of the assisted living center, keeping in mind the social distancing requirements.
The quarantine has kept everyone safe, but the residents have not been able to have much interaction with the outside world. Rick said that the senior living area has been doing online and virtual exercise and brain stimulation activities such as puzzles, online memory games, etc. during the pandemic to keep the residents active.
He said that the The Arbor at BridgeMill is also making sure the residents can keep in touch with their families and loved ones during this difficult time via online options.
”There is an engagement team that is responsible for contacting the resident’s families or loved ones so they can coordinate a virtual Zoom or FaceTime to connect families during this difficult time,” he said.