Families with senior loved ones living alone in their own homes right now may feel concerned for their overall health and well-being. Falls have traditionally been one of the biggest fears, and with good reason: four out of five injury hospitalizations involving Canadian seniors were due to a fall, most of them occurring at home.
The new health challenge for seniors
The pandemic has exposed other health issues affecting seniors too. The news is full of reports on the profound health effects of loneliness and social isolation currently experienced by seniors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that adults 50 and older who were lonely or socially isolated faced the following:
An increased risk of premature death from all causes, and one that rivals smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity
An increased risk (about 50 per cent) of dementia
A 29 per cent increased risk of heart disease and a 32 per cent increased risk of stroke
Higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicide
Due to the pandemic, some seniors living in their own homes are feeling more isolated, lonely and even unsafe, as they are struggling to maintain friendships and family connections, as well as grocery shop, attend medical appointments or simply get out for a walk if the weather is poor.
There can be collateral health damage from not leaving the confines of home too, including physical and mental inactivity and not eating nutritionally balanced meals.
A solution for social isolation
There are, however, ways to combat social isolation and loneliness among seniors that include keeping busy, having a sense of purpose, getting outside, staying connected to friends and family, and maintaining as much in-person contact as possible, if even for a few minutes a day.
What many retirees discover is that the above solution for better health can be instantly found in their new retirement residence. Friendships are quickly formed through safe opportunities for social interaction, new activities are pursued, meals become interesting again, and a newfound sense of peace, comfort and safety is gained.
But what about the pandemic? Is it better to think about a move to a residence only when things “get back to normal?” It is difficult to know when that will happen, or if that “normal” will still contain restrictions that prolong seniors’ isolation.
Why now is the time for retirement living
Considering COVID-19 safety, Chartwell Retirement Residences has always maintained rigorous infection controls, which have been further enhanced due to the pandemic. Some of our safety measures include:
Regular touchpoints with residents to monitor health and wellness
PPE available and required for staff
Active screening of residents, staff and visitors
Enhanced cleaning and infection protocols
Fostering safe social experiences
Safety measures implemented in all aspects of residents’ daily life, including dining, life enrichment activities and personal care services
A recent Chartwell survey conducted with over 13,500 respondents found that 96 per cent of Chartwell residents felt that their residence had taken important measures to keep them safe during COVID-19. Adding to the sense of safety and security, many residents and staff have now been, or are in the process of being, vaccinated.
What’s more, during the pandemic, the sense of community, solidarity in the face of adversity and connection to others have only strengthened in Chartwell residences. Residents, their families and staff support one other each day, offering encouragement, conversation and reassurance. All of this built-in support is not just an antidote to loneliness and isolation, but a gateway to better health.