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  • Susie Pitts

Sandahl Balding - Wellness & Activities Director provides insight to helping the elderly cope

As a Wellness Director for senior citizens, keeping my residents mentally and physically stimulated during quarantine has been an interesting task!

I’ve been hearing about many communities around the nation entertaining residents with “Door Bingo,” hallway parades and also exercise from their balconies overlooking the parking lot. Those are great ideas to keep residents moving and smiling during these tough times.

I, however, have been focusing on therapeutic wellness as well as physical wellness. For my residents this has meant social distant breathing and meditation exercises, individual chair massages, one-to-one conversations about family and memories, listening to music and even writing in requests for shout outs to the radio DJs! (We’ve had some really great shout outs!)

For the residents I work with this time away from their families has revealed an utmost importance of staying calm, staying in the present, not allowing ones self to drift into a state of depression, fear or sorrow, enjoying and observing the small joys around us: listening to the birds singing, absorbing the sunlight when we get it and checking on our beautiful flowers growing on the patio. We also spend a considerable time speaking with our families on video calls or via the window when someone drops something off for their loved ones.

Connecting with your loved ones is important no matter their ailments, however I do think that those suffering from a type of dementia especially need reminders of their family. Whether you are interested in video visits, window visits, phone calls, dropping off photo albums or writing letters it is a necessary piece of your relationship during the separation.

I have one family member who has dedicated to writing a letter each evening to her mother before she goes to sleep and has requested that I please read this letter every day to her mother. It has been a real life-saver for their bond and for my resident to feel a sense of normalcy.

I encourage everyone to practice your breathing, stay mindful and present to each day and its tasks, and really notice the possibilities and positivity that this time has offered all of us. It’s a wonderful time to reminisce with your family and friends. Focusing this time on personal wellness is crucial. It is uncertain times like this when we need to focus on positivity, joy, personal goals, possibly take up new hobbies and rely on expert guidance.

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