• Last modified 1184 days ago (April 21, 2021)


COVID limits ease up

Staff writer

Eased restrictions on socializing and on visits with loved ones have helped with mental health, but life still is not back to normal for those residing in care facilities or using senior services.

“They seem happier and they’re participating more in activities,” said Kelley Laswell, chief executive at Legacy Park in Peabody. “They’re coming out for meals. So, overall, they seem to be doing much better.”

Limits on visitation gradually are being lifted as staff members and residents have completed vaccination.

At Legacy Park, visits are permitted all day in groups of one or two.

Visitors still are required to have their temperature, pulse, and oxygen levels checked. However, once cleared, they can visit residents in their rooms or use a dining room for special occasions such as a birthday celebration.

At St. Luke Living Center in Marion, a special room that is easily sanitized has been reserved for visits. An outdoor gazebo is available for larger families.

Visitors are required to schedule 30-minute sessions, must wear masks, and are required to notify staff if they or anyone they know has had contact with COVID-19.

While visiting, they are allowed privacy with loved ones.

Previously, families were allowed to visit only through cracked-open windows in the dining room or personal rooms. Now, seniors are not so isolated.

“If residents have been vaccinated,” Herzet said, “they may leave the facility for visits and come home without being quarantined.”

Original, more restrictive rules came with a price.

“There’s been some depression,” Herzet said. “It’s been hard on residents not to be able to see their loved ones.”

Eased restrictions have benefited even thought without visitors, Laswell said.

“Just the ability to not be isolated in their rooms and to have social interaction with other residents” have been valuable, she said.

COVID-19 originally forced senior centers to close or limit meals to pickup and delivery.

Other activities have resumed but are limited, according to Brenda Moss, director of Hillsboro Senior Center.

Hillsboro Senior Center has reopened for in-person dining and activities, but only about half the usual 70 people are coming daily.

“They don’t like to wear the mask,” Moss said. “We social- distance the best we can. Everyone here has been vaccinated, so they take their mask off to eat but haven’t been putting them back on to talk to each other. I just don’t fight them anymore because they’re so tired of the masks.”

All staff and visitors have been vaccinated, so risk is reduced, Moss said.

“There’s some people where the only solace they get is coming here,” she said. “They don’t like being at home. Most of them came to pick up meals, so they got that interaction, but some didn’t. They were so happy when they could start getting out again.”

While it has been hard to coordinate activities, staff and patrons at Peabody Senior Center, which serves about 40 daily, have found that eating with each other has had a huge positive effect.

“People want to see each other,” patron Gladys Preheim said, “and it feels good to get out, eat with each others, and visit a little bit. But I don’t know that we’re really out of quarantine. We used to have a lot of people here — or quite a few, anyway!

“One day we did stay and play games together after we all had our shots, but we really haven’t done too much. I think “

Last modified April 21, 2021