Matt Del Vecchio: Optimism abounds at seniors’ residences | Matt Del Vecchio Seniors And Aging | #seniorliving | #elderly | #seniors
As the third wave gains strength and increased cases of new variants continue, there remains a sense of calm in senior living communities. I was recently providing a tour at a retirement home to a lovely woman who was looking to transition herself and her husband from their condo. The atmosphere was electric as we were walking around the common areas. Residents and employees had smiles on their faces and there was a buzz in the air.
It was something I had not seen for more than a year. Many were excited about the reopening of their main dining room. The government had just announced the reopening of dining rooms in seniors’ residences where 75 per cent of the residents or more received their first dose of vaccine at least three weeks ago.
This was just one small step forward to some form of normalcy. Behind it all is the fact that vaccinations were prioritized for those living in seniors’ residences. The majority of the 40,000+ living in long term care homes (CHSLD’s) were vaccinated in December and January. This was followed with vaccinations to those living in retirement homes. These are referred to as Résidences Privées pour Aînés (RPA’s). There are approximately 1,800 RPA’s in Quebec with more than 130,000 residents. The vaccination campaign continues in these senior living communities with the vast majority having received their first dose.
The vaccinations along with improved infection prevention and control measures have resulted in a drastic reduction of new cases of COVID-19 in seniors’ residences. Daily new cases in seniors’ residences are in the single digits across the entire province, a marked improvement from even just a few months ago and far better than schools, workplaces, and individual homes where community spread continues. Some are even arguing that it’s safer to be in a senior’s residence these days than being at home. Add the mental health effects of loneliness and isolation, and you can see why residents in retirement homes are almost giddy with enthusiasm and optimism.
We are not out of the woods yet. We still need to be vigilant and responsible with our individual actions. However, the future is looking bright. Activities are slowly being opened up and people are starting to get reacquainted with friends and neighbours.
There is also a significant increase in inquiries from people looking to move into retirement homes, particularly where increased care is required. Many families chose to stay at home when the pandemic started. The original thinking was that family could help out for a few weeks to ride out the pandemic. Well, a few weeks have turned into more than a year and some people, especially caregivers, are exhausted and overwhelmed. Residences offering assisted living are extremely popular these days as they provide the benefits of care services while still being able to live an autonomous life in a non-institutional setting.
There is probably no better time to consider a senior living community. It is an extremely competitive industry. As a result, some retirement homes are offering incredible promotions, service offerings are being enhanced and health and infection control measures make it a safe environment. Sure it will still take time to gain the confidence of the public but there is no harm in exploring your options.
Matt Del Vecchio is a Certified Professional Consultant on Aging and founder of Lianas Senior Transition Support helping families with their life transitions. He is also the co-host of “Life Unrehearsed” on CJAD800. For more, visit firstname.lastname@example.org