For the last 2 ½ months I haven’t even risked going to the grocery store. I have my daughter deliver what I need to my door and she stays on the other side of the hall until I’ve retrieved my items. My family and I agree that this is what is best for me with my underlying health conditions. You should see me! I’ve got more gray than color in my hair at this point, and I’ve put on some weight. I don’t like what I see in the mirror, and the worst part is – I am so lonely… and so depressed. I sleep, eat, watch tv, and sleep. This is life for the foreseeable future. Not much of one. I hate it.
Social distancing, especially for those with underlying health conditions, is vitally important. However, there is no ignoring the emotional and mental consequences of being in isolation. The biggest difference between living at The Montecito and in your own home is that our residents are able to practice social distancing without feeling alone and isolated.
Say I wanted to move – how would that even work during this pandemic and how would I be safe?
We have protocols in place for a safe transition and living situation once you are here. There are a variety of ways to approach making this move, depending on your circumstances. Whether moving to a casita, villa or apartment, we are using one exclusive mover for local moves, and we will pay for those moving costs. He goes through the same protocols that our staff – monitoring of temperature and oxygen levels, wearing gloves and mask throughout your move. Once your belongings are in place in your new home, we have a process in which everything can be sanitized over a 24-hour period, assuring you that no germs have been brought in.
I’ve seen on the news the stories about nursing homes where the virus runs through them. Why should I think this won’t happen in your community?
The entire population within a nursing home is our most vulnerable and feeble, and at highest risk. We cannot speak to the protocols that were or were not in place in those cases. What we can tell you is that our management company Artegan is based out of Washington state. Their vantage point gave them the insight to immediately put protocols in place in Arizona even before they were required; later applied Arizona’s governmental requirements for safety and layered with additional company precautions, while at the same time recognizing the need for socialization and continued independence to ward off depression, anxiety and fear.
What will life look like once I am there?
Dining staff wearing masks and gloves deliver meals daily to your door. Residents choose whether to eat in common areas at socially distanced seating areas, on patios, poolside, or in their rooms. Exercise classes are limited to 10 and currently we have water aerobics, stretch and strength classes and tai chi in place. Housekeepers and caregivers (if needed) are gloved and masked. We have hired additional staff to wipe down and sanitize the entire interior of our building, 7 days a week. Our swimming pool areas are only open to residents. We have 24/7 monitoring at the front door to ensure that no one enters the building other than medical support and staff, who are checked for temperature, O2 levels, and required to wear a mask.
As important as safety measures are, attitude goes a long way in sustaining emotional and mental health. Be prepared for a lot of laughter, smiles, joking, opportunities, games, and more. Our number one job has always been ‘Put a smile on the residents’ faces,’ and never has it been more important than in today’s world.