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Keeping seniors engaged at Atria Glen Cove

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Throughout the pandemic, staff at the Atria Glen Cove, an assisted living agency, have worked to ensure that residents remain connected, despite their isolation from their families and each other in order in an effort to protect themselves from Covid-19.

“Right from the beginning [of the pandemic] the Atria purchased a large screen tv on a rolling cart and an iPad so that our department could keep the residents engaged with their family through FaceTime visits,” said Jody Lloyd Weber of the Engaged Life Department for Atria Glen Cove.

Susan Rush, the nursing case manager of the Atria Glen Cove, said that it was during this quarantine that some residents changed mentally, physically and emotionally. “It was hard,” Rush said. “We couldn’t have physical therapists in the building, initially.”

But now, residents are allowed out of their rooms for small, socially distant and safe gatherings and they can receive care including physical therapy.

This past Veterans Day, a lunch and dinner of “surf n’ turf” was held for veteran residents as “Old Glory,” by Jerrod Niemann, played on the television set. A special ceremony was held for them, Lloyd Weber said, and City of Glen Cove Mayor Tim Tenke’s office dropped off proclamations and Port Washington VFW Post 1819 Commander and the American Legion County Chaplin John Baptisto Fiorie attended virtually to honor the veterans.

“We have social distancing, meaning only 10 people can eat in the dining room at a time,” Lloyd Weber said. “We had two ceremonies, one for lunch and one for dinner. The ladies got corsages and the men got boutonnieres and it was lovely.”

Resident Josephine Gencorelli was there to entertain fellow residents with her piano skills as well. “My favorite thing to do is play the piano because it’s a very relaxing and happy time for me,” she said. “I enjoy the singalongs we have too.”

Even with the slight increase in cases, Rush said that residents are remaining hopeful. “They live more in the moment,” she said. “Then too far ahead. So they’re happy in the moment and I think that’s where we need to stay with them.”

Painting pumpkins, watching movies, ice cream cart visits, a Fourth of July car parade by the agency, bingo, socially distant happy hours, outdoor musical entertainment and many more activities have made the most of these days for Gencorelli.

"We went through a tougher time,” Rush said. “Back even in March, when they were really sequestered to their rooms, it really was hard for them. But the funny thing that I noticed over the time, in a few weeks, people can change a habit and become accustomed to it.”

To help the residents stay connected, Rush explained that the staff went around to rooms every day for care, food, snacks, activities and encouragement. “Activities even changed, when they did things on a screen,” Rush said. “When they are able to leave their room like they are now, they are limited still to how many times they can eat in the dining room. So, it has to be scheduled.”

When residents were finally able to come out of their rooms, Rush said that some did not want to leave. “They were used to it,” she said. “And the television, of course, didn’t help. Everything on the television was Covid, Covid, Covid.”

For Gencorelli, seeing the lobby after climbing down the stares was refreshing. “It was amazing,” she said. “It was just the happiest experience. But still we’re doing the six feet of distancing and we can’t have any family members in yet, so that will be the day.”

Lloyd Weber knows just how important it is to keep these residents, who are spending more time by themselves, engaged. “In the afternoon I have virtual live entertainment,” she said. “Throughout the pandemic we have a number of virtual lectures. We have virtual entertainment. We have exercise classes every day, twice a day. We have movies in our theater.”

On Thanksgiving Day, Lloyd Weber explained, there will also be live entertainment and residents will be able to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal in small groups. “Before Thanksgiving we’re doing a Friends-giving, where we’ll go around from room to room with a cart with different hors d’oeuvres and different types of treats for them.”

Lloyd Weber said she is really looking forward to a recital that the residents will be putting on after engaging in a class called “Vitality in Motion,” where professional dancer, Vanessa Woods, will choreograph a dance routine performed seated. Dancers, Lloyd Weber explained will be socially distant and wearing masks during their routine.

“Keeping the residents engaged everyday, mentally, physically, emotionally, cognitively,” is a priority, she said. “Right now the residents are allowed out of their room. We have small group programs, no more than 15 per group. They are not allowed to play games or anything that they’re going to touch. So any crafts they do, they have to have their own individual supplies. That’s why I try to do things that they are not touching.”

Rush said that the Atria Glen Cove is still not open to the public, but families can come for scheduled limited visits.

“I don’t know any [plans] for Christmas yet, but I do know my husband and I will have Thanksgiving here,” Gencorelli said. “My daughter lives in Glen Cove, but we decided to just make sure we keep safe and they keep safe and stay put. So, we will be here for Thanksgiving. That will be fun.”