Staying Active, Staying Safe: Life at Willow Towers!
The pandemic has changed the way we live and interact with each other every day. With social distancing rules in play, it’s caused many of us to experience loneliness and isolation. And that’s cause for concern, according to a new report on the “pandemic effect,” issued by the AARP Foundation and United Health Foundation.
Two-thirds of adults surveyed said that the COVID-19 pandemic has led them to experience social isolation. Respondents reported feeling stressed, anxious, fatigued, and depressed. Additionally, the research showed that social isolation and loneliness can have a significant negative impact on our health.
That’s why, at Willow Towers, we are working harder than ever to support our residents’ mental, physical, and spiritual well-being during this pandemic. And there’s good news to report: We have found new ways to connect, share, and stay active together.
“Throughout the pandemic, we have all used the phrase ‘social distancing,’ but what it really means is that we have to be physically distant. We can still be social — but from a distance,” notes Nora O’Brien, DPT, executive director of Willow Towers Assisted Living and Willow Gardens Memory Care. At Willow Towers, with the use of technology, and a lot of creativity, residents are engaged in activities and in touch with each other and their families.”
Here are just a few of the ways we’re staying active and engaged, while staying safe:
Physical activity: To help residents maintain their mobility and muscle strength, we offer exercise classes daily. Instructors facilitate classes virtually, and residents participate physically distanced in our activity room or from the comfort of their own room. We have a roster of teachers who teach Zumba and yoga, among other options. The moves are modified for a range of fitness levels. Socially distant fitness is a core part of daily life at Willow.
“Getting to Know You” program: Our Resident Ambassador program has traditionally helped new residents meet people and connect with activities of interest. We’ve taken this program a step further during the pandemic, matching new and longtime residents alike together for “getting to know you interviews.” After being matched up by our recreation director, residents meet in one of our common spaces, masked and distanced. They interview each other, submit their notes and we write up profiles to share with everyone in the building and on our website. We absolutely love the stories we are learning about our community members!
Arts and entertainment: We have adapted many of our existing activities and continued them one-on-one or virtually. We stream live musical performances, host a classic movie series and put together arts and crafts projects. We facilitate virtual visits with our residents and local high school and college students, which has sparked new friendships. We offer pet therapy with our canine furry friend, Serene, who loves to cuddle and visit with our residents.
“It’s so important to us to find ways to be active while staying healthy,” adds O’Brien. “We have taken a proactive approach to making the most of life, every day.”