How COVID is affecting socialising at senior living facilities


Udita Jonnala

Though the pandemic has affected senior citizens in many negative ways, they are still finding ways to socialize during these trying times.

Udita Jonnala, Public Relations Manager

My first visit to a senior living facility was when I was two-years-old, and the one thing I remembered was the atmosphere. How the atmosphere was warm and comforting and to see seniors at the dining table or playing a game of pool gave me hope for my future.

Now due to our current circumstances with COVID-19 and concerns for wellbeing, this atmosphere has drastically changed, thus it is truly important that we recognize this. It is significant that we realize their conditions and what we can do to help them. 

Our seniors are most at risk for COVID-19 which makes their safety and our concerns for them valid. During the early stages of COVID-19, like dominos, each facility was closing their doors and holding out strict rules. Even through all this, 35 percent of U.S. deaths from COVID-19 have occurred in living facilities for seniors, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Going back to the rules, one of the biggest holes created by the implementation of those rules was socialising. Since seniors are very much used to socialising 24/7 before COVID-19 it was hard for them to understand these rules. This in effect led to a period of depression, anxiety, and more between seniors since they had to fit into the new norm created by COVID-19.

The shift from real life to online has been a journey in living facilities, but even through it all there are many ways we can show support.

Elena Davidenko, the administrator at Reutlinger Community, a senior living facility expresses the effect of quarantine on the seniors mental health. 

“ Missing that connection and with the isolation, it was really hard for everybody. We saw some signs of depression amongst our seniors just for that limited time (referring to quarantine).”

Not just Reutlinger Community but for many living facilities this has been a big impact of COVID-19. Without their daily activities not being accessible and their visits from friends and family, it took a major toll on their health. The isolation molds depression and signs of anxiety amongst  the seniors.

Even through it all, there was hope given to seniors, with their social events being accessible online. With calls on FaceTime to connect with family and friends, and having almost every program open and accessible with the use of the internet. Taking the Ruetlinger community, they opened up channel activities for their seniors, with the use of a TV to switch to live programs from instructors to motivate them. They also implemented a social distanced way to eat while still letting the seniors connect with their friends. 

The shift from real life to online has been a journey in living facilities, but even through it all there are many ways we can show support. It is important since we can help make this change easier on them and it is a great way to make new friends.

A small card that can be emailed to facilities or a call to appreciate the seniors would be great, safe options to show your support. Many facilities offer this option and it can help seniors gain a little more confidence and build up a connection.

Instead of feeling isolated, you can create bonds by partaking in these activities. Just a little effort from you can shape their whole future.