Greetings, Wellness Warriors! Do you remember the isolation you felt during the lockdowns of 2020? The boredom? The loneliness? The fear and desperation? Our world has returned to a somewhat new normal, and we can leave our homes more regularly these days, with some restrictions in place. But many seniors remain shut into their homes or long-term care facilities and still face daily isolation and a lack of companionship.
National Shut-in Visitation Day
February 11th was National Shut-In Visitation Day. Can you take a few moments from your day to visit someone who is homebound or living in a long-term care facility? Seeing a shut-in person, whether in person or virtually, makes a positive difference in that person’s life.
Even in the ‘new normal,’ we often take for granted our freedom to go outside each day, eat lunch at a restaurant, work out at the gym, or take a vacation. These are things that shut-in people are not able to experience on any day. I believe it is essential for us to observe shut-in visitation day every day.
Seattle Seniors Strong
That is why, in March 2020, when navigating the new world created by the virus, and social distancing began to take over, I wanted to do more to help those seniors that were going to be most vulnerable, the homebound and homeless seniors. I started the Seattle Seniors Strong Initiative to inspire the community to join me in donating to charities that serve this population.
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The Clark Family Foundation and Aegis Living pledged $100,000 in matching funds to two Seattle-based charities dedicated to providing critical services and support for seniors: Sound Generations and the Pike Market Senior Center and Food Bank (PMSC). In just 60 days, Sound Generations raised over $62,000, and PMSC raised over $53,000. Additionally, Bartell Drugs launched a four-week partnership with Seattle Seniors Strong, collecting over $105,000 in cash donations used to purchase 30 full pallets of essential goods for the charities while also collecting additional donated goods in-store.
During the two-month campaign, PMSC served nearly 5,400 meals and provided 6,300 bags of groceries to seniors. With the over $100,000 raised, the organization will provide 35,000 more free meals this year and purchase 143,000 pounds of groceries to donate to those in need.
Sound Generations strives to expand food security, transportation, health and wellness, and Assistance services to meet the diverse needs of the growing aging population in King County. The group administers the Meals on Wheels program for King County and the Hyde Shuttle, a fleet of 38 vans providing door-to-door service for hot meal programs, medical appointments, senior centers, grocery stores and other local destinations.
The organization will use funds raised to support all these critical community resources. Sound Generations has served more than 75,000 meals since the crisis began and is on track to serve 600,000 meals this year.
The most effective way to observe Shut-in Visitation Day year-round is to become a companion. In some cases, you may not be able to visit someone in person. Here are some activities you can incorporate virtually or if you have limited access to visit in person.
Play a board or card game.
Read them a book.
Watch their favorite movie together.
Work on a jigsaw puzzle or crossword.
Bring a new library book and offer to return old ones.
Cook a new recipe together.
Engage in their favorite hobby.
If you are fortunate enough to visit in person and spend time with them, here are some ideas to make the most of your time together.
Talk to them and try to see things from their perspective.
Ask if they’d like to go for a drive. If they are physically able, a short drive through the neighborhood might lift their spirits.
Take something to sharpen their mind that you know they can enjoy, like word games, a newspaper, crossword puzzles, in large print if necessary.
Listen to their stories, even if you’ve heard them a million times before. Their memories are important, and it’s a blessing to be able to share them with someone.
Give them a light hug or pat on the back.
Life gets busy, even in the new world we have created for ourselves since the virus. Don’t let your loved ones slip through the cracks. Caring for seniors is embedded in my DNA, whether they are our residents or they never set foot in an Aegis community. These are some small ways we can give back to the generation that gave it all. The simple gesture of visiting the shut-ins in your life and offering a few minutes of your time will give hope that can make all the difference.
Until next time, Wellness Warriors, Live Well, Live Long!