There is light at the end of the tunnel. But, we still have a long way to go. Vaccine distribution in senior living communities is going well, and community-dwelling seniors are beginning to be vaccinated. Continued social distancing guidelines and visitations restrictions will stay in place but may be loosened gradually, depending upon the community.
We cannot underestimate the emotional and psychological impact these restrictions have had on older adults. As professionals serving seniors, our responsibility to our clients goes beyond the mere services we provide as part of our business. It’s like the experience of being in the dark for an extended period of time and then coming suddenly into the light. It can be shocking! Helping our clients regain their confidence and zest for life is a task well worth the time to take.
Let’s look at some suggestions, some of which come from Home Care Assistance’s specialized engagement programs and partnerships, on how to move your clients forward and keep positive momentum.
How to Encourage Your Clients
You may be a wealth manager, financial planner, care manager or health care provider. Regardless of your role in providing services to your clients or patients, there are some ways to involve them beyond your typical business model of communication.
- Ask your clients how they are doing. Most of your clients will not come to you and talk about how the pandemic has affected their lives. Simply ask how they are and in what ways they have struggled or coped. Their answers will give you information on ways you can help.
- Emphasize safety. As things begin to brighten, it is human nature to let up on safety protocols. As you make suggestions to improve and enrich your client’s lives, always reinforce the current safety recommendations provided by the CDC.
- Have suggestions ready. Encouragement without concrete proposals is not very effective. Knowing your clients as you do, be prepared for ideas on how they can strategize ways to increase their activities and social connections.
Home Care Assistance’s Life Enrichment Guides are comprehensive guides to staying engaged. These guides start with virtual activities covering just about any interest. The pandemic has relegated many seniors to their apartments or rooms, and having access to virtual activities is essential. Next, the guides have movement resources to keep people active and physically engaged, followed by cognitive exercises to keep the mind sharp. Calming meditation guides are next, rounded out by lifelong learning options.
Goodnight Zoom is an ingenious idea that pairs senior storytellers with children virtually. The program helps isolated seniors and the children (many who are doing homeschooling), connect and bring joy and enthusiasm back into their lives.
The non-profit Encore also has ten other suggestions that pair seniors with children and teens remotely. Some require an internet connection, but others involve letter writing and mentor opportunities.
AARP is known for its in-person state-specific activities, from movies for grownups to brain health lectures. Due to the pandemic, these activities have moved online to great success. In fact, more seniors can now access events that they weren’t previously. The options are extensive with everything from yoga, cooking, job searching, financial planning, fraud, social security, and much more.
Silver sneakers is a health and fitness program for people 65 and over. The program is covered under some Medicare plans. The program allows eligible people to access membership to gyms and recreation centers across the country. During the pandemic, silver sneakers offer online classes for their members to stay in shape.
The counterpart to Silver Sneakers is Silver and Fit. Both programs partner with Medicare Advantage and traditional Medicare supplement plans. Advise your clients to check both plans to determine which one has the best program for their fitness needs.
Home Care Assistance’s Mind Fit Series will give your clients access to videos on YouTube that will enhance their cognitive abilities and skills. It is guided, allowing people to stop and start the series on their own timetable.
Technology and Social Media
Time and time again, the use of technology and the benefits of social media to stay connected have proven to be invaluable to seniors. Unfortunately, most do not know how to use or are fearful of technology. Encourage your clients to try. Most senior living communities have staff dedicated to helping their residents learn to use and troubleshoot technology.
Encouraging your clients to take the bold step of diving into technology might be the greatest gift of all because it opens up an infinite number of possibilities. Home Care Assistance caregivers can help clients facilitate learning technology and provide ongoing help. Older clients typically require multiple sessions to feel comfortable with accessing computers and smartphones. Home Care Assistance can offer support in this area.
A Positive Vision for the Future
Your clients are your business. Many of your clients have lived through some tough times, and their resilience is admirable. But, they were probably younger when they had to endure challenges, and vigilance is more important than ever. A positive attitude tempered with the realities of uncertainty is an excellent place to start. Encouraging growth and reinforcing mental, social, and physical improvement is the right thing to do.