COVID-19 and Independent Living Communities

Published: May 5, 2021

New York is taking the next step with the COVID-19 pandemic by releasing restrictions on capacity limits for businesses and loosening in-person gathering guidelines. Everyone, especially older adults, is advised to continue to practice safety measures such as social distancing and mask-wearing when applicable. 

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Independent Living communities have minimized residents’ risks and offered benefits that have allowed those individuals to thrive in a difficult time.

As vaccines have become available, communities such as ours have worked to make sure older adults get them. Following CDC recommendations, Independent Living communities are now gradually transitioning to a “new normal.”

The Pandemic’s Impact on Retirement Communities 

Millions of older adults move to a retirement community to enjoy a stress-free life, surrounded by neighbors who have similar life experiences. The pandemic, though, presented residents of these communities and their families with unprecedented challenges, which they faced with the help of staff members.

At The Residences at Plainview, our experienced staff has made living here enjoyable, seamless and safe despite being in the midst of a pandemic. We’ve also created a secure environment for families and visitors alike to relax in our community with the comfort of knowing that every protective measure is being taken to support their health. 

While our community has only been open for three months now, we understand the impact the pandemic has had and the importance for our residents to communicate with family and friends. According to Forbes, “Offering virtual web chat and conferencing services like Zoom has become a way to talk to, and with, residents as well as to offer them instruction and entertainment.”

Communities Have Been Educated About COVID-19 

During the past year, 24-hour media coverage has ensured that most people are saturated with COVID-19 information. We are always in-tune to the latest news and updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Health, and it’s important when you choose an Independent Living community they stay abreast to the latest information from national and local authorities. 

At this point, all communities should have staff trained appropriately for COVID-19 safety measures and protocols. Before our community opened in February, we went through rigorous internal training.

Promoting Critical Behavior Modifications

Older adults are considered a high-risk population for contracting viral diseases, such as COVID-19. 

With this in mind, communities have followed CDC best practices guidelines to protect seniors. Their changes applied to staff, residents, and visitors. They include:

  • Staying home. Everyone has been encouraged to stay home if they are sick and self-isolate if there is a chance they could have COVID-19.  
  • Hand washing. There has been a strong focus on washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer.
  • Wearing masks. Everyone in communities has been provided with protective masks. They have been taught to wear them correctly and whenever they cannot practice social distancing. 
  • Social distancing. Residents, visitors, and staff must be six feet apart in common areas and private rooms.
  • Adequate supplies. Communities have provided items such as masks, sinks, soap, towels, and tissues required to prevent the spread of disease.  
  • Public messaging. Independent Living communities have used signs, videos, PA systems, print media, and digital devices to provide community members with critical information about COVID-19. 

Health Measures Have Mitigated Infections 

Independent Living communities were quick to implement CDC guidelines that have protected residents every step of the way. The CDC offers data and instructions specific to senior Independent Living communities. With these recommendations in mind, staff members have minimized COVID-19 infections by implementing policies that include:

  • Putting an emergency plan in place
  • Slowing or preventing the spread of disease by limiting non-essential visitors
  • Disinfecting common areas
  • Closing or restricting access to pools and recreational spaces
  • Modifying shared kitchens and dining areas to ensure social distancing 
  • Discouraging residents from sharing items that are hard to disinfect

Seniors Are Getting Vaccines 

The earliest stages of the U.S. COVID-19 vaccination program were rolled out in fall 2020 but really picked up steam in early 2021. Each Independent Living community has made its own arrangements to ensure residents who want to be vaccinated get the shot.

According to Forbes, 75% of Americans 65 and older have now received the first COVID-19 dose. Since everyone over 16 also now qualifies, many seniors are visiting with friends and family for the first time in more than a year.   

Senior Communities Promoted Well-Being During the Pandemic

Life after COVID-19 is unlikely to be the same as it was before the virus struck. But, just a year after the start of the pandemic, residents of Independent Living communities are returning to a new normal. 

Those who lived in senior Independent Living communities during the pandemic have fared better than average. Not only has their health been protected, but they have had plenty of company and activities to keep them engaged and active.

Community staff members worked tirelessly designing classes and entertainment for residents. Thousands have become Zoom and YouTube users. Many have also spent the last year participating in art lectures, exercise programs, mindfulness opportunities, and poetry groups.

Those are just some of the activities we offer at The Residences at Plainview. See for yourself firsthand what it’s like to live here for a day. We’d love to show you around. Schedule a tour today.