Posted on 06.26.20 by Cindy Hudson, B.S./OTR-L, RAC-CT, CHC
Much has been said about the past 100+ days of “unprecedented” events due to the Novel Coronavirus. Seems there are opinions all over the spectrum as to the severity and response to this outbreak. Whatever one believes about this virus, one thing is indisputable. Our elderly are getting a 1-2 sucker punch. As we know, they are at a much higher risk of contracting the virus AND they are at a much higher risk of dying from it. That’s the first punch. The second punch impacts all of our seniors who are living alone in their homes, or in SNFs, AL’s and even some in Independent Living or Retirement Communities. The second punch is loneliness and isolation. We can mask, distance and sanitize to try to prevent the first punch, but the CDC has minimal recommendations to prevent the second punch. That’s where our nurses and therapy teams come in.
When nothing seems “normal” under the quarantined circumstances, residents in all of our communities struggle. They are not seeing loved ones up close and personal. They may be eating alone 21 meals a week, maybe even from bed when nursing staff is stretched. They are not seeing the usual faces because we must wear masks and face shields to protect them. Activities are restricted and their ability to move about may also be restricted. So much loss. Yet there are bright spots. The bright spots are YOU, the therapists who say Hi to a resident every morning as you walk by their door. The bright spot is YOU the therapists who take the time to answer a call light on your way down the hall. The bright spot is YOU the therapists when you see that a resident is declining and needs your services and skills to stop a potential landslide of debility. The gift each of you bring to every resident you help- in whatever way you connect with them- is your caring presence. At a time when many residents may feel lost or de- humanized by overwhelmed STNAs and nurses, therapists restore dignity and hope. That is no small feat under the current conditions. Mother Theresa is credited with saying: “Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.” How many residents feel unwanted and uncared for when they cannot see their families in a way that makes sense to them? How many residents don’t have visitors for whatever the reason? Each kind word shared, smiling eyes behind the mask, routine “Hello” each morning, creates a connection for that resident to feel a little less lonely, a little more included in the community and a little more like they matter. Each therapist’s small habits with various residents creates an antidote to minimize the impact of the second sucker punch. For that, there are only words of gratitude and appreciation. Thank you Arbor Rehab therapists!