Dan Levitt is an acclaimed international speaker, elder care leader, writer, and gerontologist, specializing in helping others to create better lives for seniors.

Dan Levitt, Gerontologist and Executive Director at Tabor Village Discusses Fighting Ageism and Transforming Senior Care

Dan Levitt, MSc., CHE, is a Gerontologist, TEDx International Speaker, and the Executive Director of Tabor Village. Levitt was inspired to get into the senior care industry at a young age, as he grew up watching his father run a facility in Vancouver, CA and wanted to follow in his footsteps. He believes that right now in the industry, our job is to protect the value of seniors lives by crushing ageism, stereotypes, and transforming the definition and execution of senior care.

If there is anything the pandemic has shown us, Levitt stresses that the ideas and constructs around senior living needs to adapt. Design, technology, infection control, and cleaning protocols are all things that need to shift and develop as the industry continues to move forward. Levitt adds that “we should be looking at materials, ventilation systems, negative air pressure, things that are standard in hospital systems, yet are often missing in senior living.”

More customizable and personal options for living may be at the forefront of development within the industry. Levitt urges people to navigate away from the narrative that all seniors are the same because each individual has different needs. Levitt predicts senior living communities may become smaller and more self-sufficient, steering away from traditional cafeteria style dining experiences and shared living spaces. “Infection control is paramount,” Levitt says, “infections are controlled through applications of materials, air circulation, and overall general lifestyle and care practices.” Having technology at the fingertips of both staff and residents is also instrumental in creating transformative care and adapting to person centered care.

Besides structural and technology needs, Levitt expresses the importance of combating loneliness and isolation. It is crucial for the older population to connect with the outside world. Levitt encourages operators to support and execute care models that give their senior residents their lives back. Person centered care and more robust programing can help reinvent what life is like inside senior care facilities. “Seniors have done nothing wrong besides getting older,” Levitt says, “not all of them understand why they are stuck in isolation, it can feel like a punishment.” Some solutions to combat this issue are allowing ample outdoor time, access to therapy, resources for religious practices, music therapy, and allowing socially distant interactions.

Though the pandemic has been challenging for seniors and senior living communities, Levitt believes it has opened up an important narrative about aging. “Before, there was always a youth centered culture. Seniors and their lives weren’t valued as much. But the pandemic has heightened the importance and value of senior lives and care. People are refocusing on how important seniors are in society and protecting them, rather than just tossing them away.”

While the industry strives to improve, Levitt believes that crushing ageism and the stereotypes surrounding it plays an important role in creating a better future. “Ageism starts with us,” he says, “we have a fear of growing old and a fear of old people, we spend so much energy and money on anti-aging products, but we shouldn’t hide our aging, we should celebrate it and encourage others to as well.”

By shifting the narrative around aging, it reincorporates the older population into society and assures that no one gets left behind. Levitt is an advocate for resources for seniors, whether it be through government funding or laws, and protecting seniors overall and assuring that they don’t slip through the cracks. With the elder population being at the center of concern amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Levitt hopes that it will bring attention and support to the community and its needs.

Waltonwood Ashburn Partners with Wayne State University to Provide Continuing Education Credits

Waltonwood Ashburn, located in Ashburn, VA, in partnership with the Institute of Gerontology at Wayne State University, a public research university in Detroit, Michigan, offers Waltonwood associates and other medical professionals classes and continuing education (CE) credits during the pandemic. With frontline workers under more stress now more than ever, providing free CE credits has been Waltonwood’s way to give back to the healthcare worker community.

Continuing education (CE) credits are an educational requirement for professionals with healthcare careers. They are designed to keep healthcare workers up-to-date on medical advances. They fill the gap between current care and optimal care and are mandated by licensing boards, professional societies, and certification boards for healthcare professionals. CE has been highly effective at improving patient outcomes and saving lives within the senior living industry.

Amongst the many reasons for these offerings, Waltonwood wanted to support and provide resources for their frontline workers, as well as show their appreciation for all healthcare workers for all that they have done and continue to do across the world. The monthly classes are free and held over Zoom for professionals living in Virginia and North Carolina. However, Dana Rizzo, area manager of business development at Waltonwood Ashburn and Donna MacDonald, the director of outreach for the Institute of Gerontology at Wayne State University, hope to expand their program and its reach moving forward. They have received overwhelming positive feedback and gratitude from the participants and are eager to continue sharing these opportunities.

The credits that Waltonwood and Wayne State are providing are almost enough to meet the requirements for the healthcare professionals board exams in roughly a two-year period. By making the courses free, it allows people to further their careers and education without being worried about financial stressors and burdens that usually come with such programs. Frontline workers have given so much during these last few months and Rizzo and MacDonald believe this is the least they can do.

Since the classes started, more than 200 professionals have participated and received continuing education credits. The content of the CE’s is applicable to the situations frontline staff face every day and gives them tools to further their careers. The programs are designed to be relevant, state of the art, and very interactive even though they take place remotely.

“We’re more than happy to provide this support to ease the added stress of maintaining their licenses to work during this pandemic. We know the challenges professionals face during these unprecedented times, so we wanted to do our part to provide a free class for all professionals from Waltonwood associates to social workers and registered nurses. We have received tremendous feedback, and we look forward to helping additional healthcare professionals in the months to come.” Says Rizzo.

Waltonwood has a commitment to excellence, providing resources to their staff, and community. “Training is one of the best ways I know to ensure consistently high-quality care,” said MacDonald. “So, we’re proud to partner with Waltonwood to provide free continuing education on timely topics. Waltonwood invites healthcare staff and professionals throughout the community. That way everyone who works with older adults can benefit.”

A Resident and Essential Caregiver Reunited

Simeon Purkey, Executive Director at The Auberge at Bee Cave, Discusses Reinstating Visitation Under Texas’s New Guidelines.

A few weeks ago, Governor Abbott announced that long-term care facilities in the state of Texas would be opening back up to visitors. Following the announcement, the Texas Human Health and Services Commission released formal guidelines that communities must follow.

Below are some highlights of the required guidelines.

• Nursing facilities are required to allow visits from two designated essential caregivers per resident. This is voluntary for assisted living facilities.
• Facilities must be approved by Texas Human Health Services for visitation.
• Nursing homes are expected to contain any positive cases to an isolated unit.
• If a nursing facility has COVID-19 positive cases, they are still required to allow essential caregivers in. This is optional for assisted living facilities in this situation.
• Any residents with COVID-19 are not allowed to have visitors unless they are at the end of their life.
• All visitors are expected to schedule their visits, must wear PPE, and must show proof of negative testing.

Upon this change in visitation, Simeon Purkey, and his team at The Auberge at Bee Cave, quickly began to formulate plans and protocols that met the Texas state standards. “We as a community needed to drive our policies and procedures to match the state guidelines put in place,” says Purkey.

Anyone deemed an essential caregiver must be tested 14 days before a visit to their facility and continue to receive monthly tests after that, all of which must come back negative in order to remain an essential caregiver permitted to enter The Auberge. Before the first visitation, essential caregivers are sent instructional videos about proper hand-washing, PPE attire, etc. and are required to complete a competency check on these protocols upon first arriving at the community. Surgical masks and gloves are required to be worn throughout the duration of the visit as well.

Purkey and The Auberge team have designed three designated areas for visitation. If the resident is living privately, the essential caregiver is permitted to visit inside their apartment. For residents in a shared living space, there is a vacant apartment that has been designated for visitation and undergoes vast sanitization and sterilization after each visit. The third option is visiting in The Auberge’s beautiful courtyard area, where multiple areas are set up at a distance for essential caregivers and their loved one to connect. Visitations are limited to two hours and there are four designated time slots a day to ensure the time for proper safety and cleaning protocols to take place in between.

Despite all the efforts that Purkey and his staff have had to make in order to make these visitations happen, it has been incredibly rewarding not only for the residents, but for the staff as well. Purkey was able to witness a daughter and her mother reuniting for the first time in seven months, a site that moved him to tears. “Our community is a true community, everyone has come together to provide exceptional, holistic care, and the essential caregivers have been instrumental in their support and encouragement, seeing them come back was huge.”

The majority of the patients in The Auberge community have some type of cognitive impairment, which has been especially difficult throughout quarantine. Residents with cognitive impairment struggled with confusion throughout the past few months, but now that they know there will be a loved one visiting them every week, it has vastly improved their cognitive function. Purkey says, “It doesn’t erase their cognitive impairment, but it does help improve their physical, mental, and overall health. These essential caregivers are medically necessary for the holistic care of our residents and there are benefits in doing this the right way and coming together to achieve the same goal.”

Moving forward, Purkey and his team will continue to follow guidelines issued by the state of Texas for next steps. As a leadership team, they are constantly having discussions as to what the future will look like for their community and senior living as a whole. If there is a positive case again, they must have an isolated area to relocate the positive resident, and the essential caregiver wouldn’t be allowed to visit unless the resident is end of life. From there, Purkey adds, “we go into infection procedure, we test every staff member and every resident, and implement exposure protocols until we know people are negative instead of unknown.” Two weeks of negative results after a positive case are required in order to allow the essential caregivers back into the facility.

Purkey is confident that The Auberge, as well as other senior living facilities, can continue to get creative, following state guidelines, in order to meet the needs of residents. “You feel a different sense of pride when the family member comes in and they thank you in person, myself, as well as the staff has been so appreciative and overwhelmed by the kindness and gratitude,” Purkey said. Though the past few months have been bleak for senior living, small victories such as these are boosting the spirits of staff, residents, and families.

Springhill Resident Shows Off Pen Pal Letter

Springhill Celebrates Intergenerational Month with Pen Pal Program

It had been a long-time goal of Susan Sherwood’s, Marketing Coordinator at Springhill, to create more intergenerational connections for the residents in her community. Back in January, Sherwood made her dreams a reality and reached out to a local third grade teacher to see if his students would be interested in a pen pal program with Springhill residents. The class was thrilled about the idea and had 30 students who wanted to get paired up with a Springhill senior to correspond with.

Sherwood paired the students and seniors together based on similar interests they had and went back and forth between Springhill and the school to deliver letters back and forth. When COVID-19 struck, Sherwood was fearful of what would happen to the pen pal program, as it had become a source of joy in her residents. However, the students enjoyed it just as much as the seniors did and a large group of them wanted to continue to write from home with the help of their parents mailing out the letters.

During this time, Sherwood said the pen pal program has boosted residents spirits and morale over the last few months. Despite their age difference, the students and seniors have a number of things to talk about, such as one pair who bonded over their passion for basketball. The seniors ask them questions about school and their families, while students enjoy hearing about what it was like for the residents when they were their age. Sherwood says, “they talk about everything under the sun! It is an eye opening experience for the students because they discover they have more in common with the seniors than they thought.”

A few months into the pen pal exchange, something extraordinary happened. Through exchanging letters back and forth and getting to know each other, one of the student and senior pairs discovered that they were related. After talking to some other family members and creating a family tree, the duo concluded that they were in fact fourth cousins. Sherwood and the rest of the Springhill team was astounded that this random pairing ended up creating an everlasting bond. Since this revelation, the cousins have taken their relationship to the next level and talk regularly on the phone, further closing the gap between their generations.

“Intergenerational relationships are everything to them,” Sherwood says, “communicating with these students keeps them mentally and emotionally stimulated, as well as helping them maintain a positive attitude through these especially challenging times.”

Before COVID, Sherwood and her team had a party planned for the students to come meet their pen pals in person, and both sides were extremely disappointed when this was no longer an option. Instead, Sherwood was able to arrange a virtual celebration where the students and residents go to “meet” and do a show and tell together. It was an extremely powerful and special occasion and lasted for hours, sharing stories, photos, and laughs across generations. It is still Sherwood, and the students and residents hope, that someday soon they will be able to connect face to face.

ISherwood hopes that this program changes the way that not only children, but people of all ages, view older adults. Younger people often look at seniors and forget they are people just like them. The students were able to gain insights, wisdom, and problem solving skills, to name a few, and the residents were able to be transported back to their youth and feel involved in the outside world. Both sides benefitted greatly from the relationships they formed with each other, and they even had a virtual meet and greet to hold them over until they are able to finally meet in person. Sherwood has been deeply inspired by the pen pal program and wants to continue it with other local classes and other residents at Springhill.

Waltonwood Lake Boone Celebrates Virtual Wedding

Two Residents at Waltonwood Lake Boone, a Premier Senior Living Community, Recently Had a Very Special Celebration.

Delmiro Bueno and Jacqueline Murray just so happen to be in-laws living at the same senior living community, and their mutual granddaughter, Faith Murray, got married. Since the seniors were unable to attend the ceremony due to COVID-19, Waltonwood Lake Boone helped them celebrate with their family virtually.

Bueno’s daughter is married to Murray’s son, and their granddaughter was set to be married at the end of July, both parties were holding on to hope that they would be able to attend in person. However, as the date approached it became clear that it was not going to be plausible for Bueno and Murray to attend the wedding.

Upon this heartbreaking news, Waltonwood staff, and Life Enrichment Manager Samantha Toms, jumped into action to plan something special for Bueno and Murray. While the grandparents weren’t going to be able to attend the wedding, Waltonwood began planning a unique way to bring the wedding to them.

Waltonwood has a beautiful theatre that Toms chose as the perfect location to plan an on-campus wedding streaming and celebration for Bueno and Murray. The space was decorated with flowers and other wedding accessories, and the Chef even created a wedding cake for the grandparents to enjoy while the rest of their family got to cut cake in person. Bueno and Murray were both overjoyed with Waltonwood’s special plan for them and they were glad they got to feel a part of the festivities and watch their granddaughter get married.

To take the occasion to the next level, Waltonwood staff made sure Bueno and Murray were dressed up in wedding attire and had a professional photographer come and take pictures of them celebrating their granddaughters big day. They sent these photos to the family so Bueno and Murray could be part of the wedding book and they were so grateful and even moved to tears.

The above and beyond efforts of the Waltonwood staff transformed devastating news, into a celebration to be remembered by their residents families for the rest of their lived. Bueno and Murray enjoyed being able to see their loved ones on the screen and feel as though they were part of their granddaughter’s special day.

This was the first virtual wedding that Waltonwood put together, but Toms believes that these types of virtual events may continue to be the reality of the future. They have had zoom birthday parties since March and have even had a virtual funeral service for a resident that passed away. Toms and her team are willing to go the extra mile to assure their residents are safe, happy, and healthy, and want to keep them as connected to the outside world and their loved ones as possible during this time. Though virtual isn’t the same as being in person, the small, intricate, and personal touches that the Waltonwood team put into this celebration are what truly go the extra mile. Toms is enthusiastic and hopeful that her community will continue to work together to bring joy to their residents even amidst the current restrictions.

Rebecca Donze- Senior Living Advisor

Rebecca Donze, Senior Living Advisor at Senior Living Experts Shares Tips for Searching for a Senior Living Community.

Rebecca Donze’s passion for the senior living industry was sparked at a very young age when she acted as a caregiver to her grandfather. 22 years later, and Donze still carries that same passion with her every day as she helps connect families with the right senior living facility for their loved ones. The process of finding the right senior living community is extremely personal and Donze highlights the importance of making sure the final decision meets all of the seniors needs.

Finding the right place for our loved ones to age in place can be challenging and stressful, which is why it is important to go in with a list of criteria tailored to the future resident. The most important question to ask is, “what is important to them?” Room sizes, financial costs, dining services, staff qualifications, quality of care, and staff to resident ratio, are just some of the important things that differ on a person to person basis. By narrowing down the search to three or four communities that line up with the individuals needs and desires, it becomes less overwhelming and easier to find the perfect fit.

By working with a senior care advisor, such as Donze and her team at Senior Living Experts, families have someone by their side to hold their hands throughout this process if they do not want to go it alone. For all parties involved, the goal is to only move the senior one time and for this new community to be their lasting home. Donze notes that transitioning a loved one into a facility can be challenging, and the change and adjustment period can take some time, but she reminds families that they are ultimately making the best decision, and after some time the seniors grow to enjoy their respective communities.

Donze compares the search for the right community to a puzzle, it is all about putting the pieces together to create the perfect picture. She has witnessed a wide variety of success stories and believes once the fear of the unknown is tackled, the process is much smoother, and the end result is extremely positive.

Especially in these challenging times, families may be on the fence about putting their loved ones into a senior living facility, however communities are going above and beyond to assure residents well-being is the number one priority. Senior living communities allow for the proper care, supplies, staff, and socialization, that our older generation needs to thrive.

Donze remarks, “As an industry, we are doing a great job of sharing with families how safe their loved ones will be in our communities. Isolation is a huge problem for seniors, but senior housing options provide communities and alleviate that concern. There are wonderful things going on inside the communities and it is still a safe option for our seniors.”

Lastly, Donze stresses that families and friends must be forward thinking when putting their loved one in senior living. Not only is it important that the senior’s needs are met now, but that they continue to be met moving forward as they age in place.

The search for the right senior living community can be daunting, but by taking the necessary steps, or working with a professional, it can have a fantastic end result. Donze’s favorite part of her job is watching each client adapt and thrive in their new home, proof that there truly is a right fit for everyone.

Jeramy Ragsdale, CEO at Thrive Senior Living: Tips for Senior Living Communities Before They Open

Jeramy Ragsdale has become a pro at the behind the scenes preparation senior living communities must undergo before opening. With Thrive Senior Living opening around 30 properties in the last ten years in thirteen different states, Ragsdale has learned the ins and outs of how to successfully open a new senior living community. Assuring that each facility is safe and prepared for new residents is extremely important and should be a top priority amongst senior living communities.

Ragsdale stresses that when opening a new senior living community, it is important to remember you are creating someone’s home. Senior living communities have a large responsibility to provide a home to their residents in the last stage of their lives. Ragsdale believes that before opening, a perspective shift is crucial.

He says, “As a developer and operator, we are used to walking through construction sites, but as we get closer to opening, it is important to view the facility through the eyes of the new residents, who deserve to move into a safe, brand-new home.”

Besides making sure the property is ready for move in day, Ragsdale also emphasizes the importance of prepping staff prior to opening as well. A key strategy that Ragsdale has seen succeed is allowing teams to work from inside the building for as long as possible before the residents arrive. Providing the staff with ample time to prepare and adjust to the workplace will further ensure for a smooth and successful opening and move in. In the current climate, Ragsdale encourages staff and facilities to implement extra levels of cleaning and disinfecting before, during, and after the opening for everyone’s health and safety.

One of the biggest mistakes Ragsdale has seen is setting an unrealistic opening date and pushing to open before the community is ready. “Mistakes are a great teacher, they are part of what has helped us refine our process over the years.” Pushing to open too early can be detrimental and disruptive, so to combat this, he strongly recommends setting realistic expectations and setting an opening date that is plausible. Timing is key, especially now, and making sure that facilities allocate enough time to get inspections, approval, and complete all the finishing touches.

Ragsdale used to be a home builder, and he has discovered the development process of opening a new construction senior living community is similar to the home building process. He stresses that at the end of the day, we are being trusted and held responsible for creating homes for a valuable and vulnerable population. By creating realistic timelines, training and preparing staff, and doing multiple final walk-throughs, senior living communities can assure they will be ready to welcome residents to their new home.

Jayne Sallerson, Chief Operating Officer at Charter Senior Living Shares Strategies to Maintain Employee and Resident Engagement

Jayne Sallerson deems herself “the luckiest woman in the world” because every day when she goes to work she is making a difference and impacting so many peoples lives. Sallerson is the Chief Operating Officer at Charter Senior Living where her main focus over the last few months has been boosting moral and keeping both residents and employees enthusiastic and engaged.

Charter Senior Living has been bustling with new programs and activities despite COVID-19 restrictions. Some have been simple, such as door hangers on the residents doors every day with new goodies such as crossword puzzles, word searches, jokes of the day, little things to keep their minds active and give them something to look forward to at the same time.

Sallerson and her team also came up with some friendly competition to boost both staff and resident moral, such as their Hydration Station contest, that turned the very important task of keeping hydrated into something everyone could get excited about. Sallerson believes the key to engagement during these unpredictable times is “taking something mundane and making it exciting.”

Their biggest program over the last few months was “Charter’s Got Talent” which was their own spin-off of the television show “America’s Got Talent.” Contestants would submit videos weekly and it was up to the judges to decide who would make it to the next round each week. Both residents and staff had a blast competing, sharing talents, and having something to look forward to. This program was a hit amongst everyone and sparked ideas for future events as well.

Charter also had a spirit week that lasted five days, each day having a different theme for employees and residents to follow. Staff dressed up for twin Tuesday and wacky Wednesday, while also competing in milkshake contests and using Thursday as “thankful Thursday.” While there may be limits on what types of activities can be done, there is surely no limit on the fun that can be had.

Sallerson says, “We cannot change the virus, but we can change how we help our residents and employees.” On the employee front, all Executive Directors and Senior Staff are going through a leadership training called “Courage Ignited.” This program teaches staff how to manage and cope during times of crisis. The Charter team loves being able to learn new skills and execute them. There is also a “Hero of the Month” program where everyone in the building gets to submit their choice and the hero selected gets extra personal time off, a certificate, and a congratulations call with the whole team. These simple acts to keep staff happy and engaged are crucial and have been a huge success at Charter Senior Living.

“Providing some sense of normalcy is crucial to satisfy the residents need for connection.” In her 20+ years in the industry, Sallerson has witnessed firsthand that people move into senior living facilities because of the sense of community. She believes that the key to getting through these uncertain times is to constantly keep changing and adapting. “Variety is the spice of life,” Sallerson remarks. The future may be unpredictable, but Sallerson and her team are choosing to focus on what they can control: the safety and overall well-being of both residents and staff. They are hard at work brainstorming new and exciting ideas to bring to Charter Senior Living

Mike Williams, CEO and Co-Founder of English Meadows Senior Living: How to Support Healthcare Heroes

Senior Living was practically in Mike Williams blood, as he grew up with both his father and grandfather being leaders in the industry. He began working at his family’s community when he was in high school and he instantly felt a connection to the field. Since his early days in senior living, it was ingrained in him that staff was like family. At his own community, English Meadows, his frontline workers health, wage, and benefits, are a top priority. Williams believes it is crucial that now, more than ever, senior living heroes deserve not only praise, but a living wage.

Williams and his team have always taken care of their staff, but 2020 exacerbated that need. The English Meadows team includes a Director of Culture, whose role was forced into high gear to assure that the safety, well-being, and financial stability of their caregivers. Williams implemented “hero pay” which provided a $2 an hour raise for caregivers at the beginning of the pandemic. They have been able to continue a permanent $1 raise and are working hard on their budget to be able to keep the full hero pay in place. “Our caregivers shouldn’t have to work another job to make ends meet,” says Williams.

Aside from the pay raise, English Meadows wanted to provide benefits and resources to their caregivers for their above and beyond efforts. They quickly came up with a makeshift daycare operation in order to alleviate the stress of childcare for their workers. An extremely important resource that Williams implemented is access to free mental health services and grief counseling. Williams and his team are working tirelessly to provide more insurance and benefit options for their caregivers as well. English Meadows has also made it possible for employees to set up free checking and debit card accounts with access to free cash advantages, it is crucial to Williams that his caregivers have access to these resources and can obtain financial stability.

In particular, English Meadows had seven heroes who made the sacrifice to be quarantined away from their families to work in one of their communities that had COVID-19 positive cases. These individuals spent a month in a hotel to assure that the senior living community was fully staffed and put their jobs and residents first, which to Williams, was truly remarkable and he is filled with so much gratitude.

The overwhelming message, according to Williams, is that the industry needs to do better at providing for their healthcare heroes. “After the last six months, we work for our caregivers and residents, the rest doesn’t matter.” His goal is assuring that his employees feel appreciated by creating an environment that makes them want to stay long-term.

Stephanie Lynn Gets Creative to Keep Residents Engaged at the Village at Belmar

Isolation has been a huge problem facing senior living residents in the wave of COVID-19. Stephanie Lynn, like many others, has had to put her imagination to the test to come up with ways to battle isolation and keep residents connected, happy, and engaged.

Lynn has been at the Village at Belmar since the property opened in 2017 and has been in the industry since 2009, she cannot imagine doing anything else. When COVID-19 struck, Lynn had to revamp her activities since her usual routines were no longer possible. Her group in Independent Living is a very active bunch and her biggest concern was assuring that they didn’t fall victim to the loneliness and isolation that impacts seniors now more than ever before.

Utilizing technology has become a crucial part of Lynn’s plan to keep residents stimulated over the last few months and moving forward. Though this situation has been less than ideal, Lynn believes that a positive is that it provided a much-needed opportunity to teach residents the ins and outs of technology. By teaching residents how to use technology, they are able to stay connected and communicate not only with each other, but with friends and family outside the community as well.

One program Lynn has put in place is called Two for Tuesdays, where she collaborated with local businesses to get food and drink samples to distribute to all of the residents, and then they proceed to all join a group Zoom call and try the pairings together. The residents love to get online and come together to sample each weeks new tasty treats. The social engagement that Lynn’s events provide is extremely important in keeping moral up within the community.

The Village at Belmar is fortunate enough to be in an area with few COVID-19 cases, so Lynn and the rest of their team are able to plan socially distanced events with ten or less people as well. Every Wednesday night they have a movie night with a projector outside on campus. Lynn arranges distanced outdoor and driveway activities to allow for safe in-person interaction, one of her favorites being the small barbecue she hosts once a week. Residents have come to look forward to the weekly events whether they are online or in person, they are just eager to be involved and active in the community.

With the cold winter months approaching the Village at Belmar, located in Colorado, Lynn is already brainstorming creative programming ideas. Lynn plans on going to museums to take photos to provide a virtual tour experience for the residents. Her mission is how can she take what she was doing before, and make it virtual in some capacity. Mental stimulation is essential for seniors, without it they become depressed and isolated, which unfortunately leads to rapid health declines. To combat this, Lynn is constantly checking in on her residents, bringing them treats to their doors, assuring they know how to connect via technology, and creating options for them to socialize under the constantly changing guidelines.

Though she is unsure what the future brings, Lynn hopes there will be a silver lining soon. In the meantime, she plans to continue her creative programming endeavors to brighten the lives of the residents at the Village at Belmar.