August 17, 2021

Restoring Joy

BY LeadingAge

It has been a long haul, this COVID experience, longer than any one of us could have imagined. I suspect that you, like I did, thought that we were through the worst of it and that we were back on the road to normalcy (whatever that is!). It was a little reprieve, a chance to imagine an unmasked world and buildings full of visitors and volunteers. Much to all of our dismay and disappointment, that sense of relief has been upended by the Delta variant and our battle against this virus continues.

We could let this setback discourage us. We could let it color our lives and the lives of our elders. We could, and yet, we can’t. We have spent a year plus fighting not just for the health and safety of our elders but also for their quality of life. We found ways to promote engagement during the long days of lockdown. We made window visits and virtual visits as meaningful as possible. And when the time came we opened our doors (granted, not all the way) to families and began to restore our programming, carefully and with caution, but with energy and commitment.

I see this so clearly in my own organization. We continue to adhere to stringent masking and distancing guidelines, guidelines we had briefly relaxed a bit just a few short weeks ago. But we have made it a point to bring the fun back, to not let masks and space prevent us from connection, stimulation and laughter. Comedy Club in the long term care setting? Absolutely. Beer pong at Assisted Living? Why not? Our elders deserve a full range of experiences, experiences that we are here to facilitate.

For more than 18 months safety has driven all of our decisions and has never been far from our minds. Today that still remains true. But we must find ways to balance, to bring joy back to our elders, to bring laughter and socialization. We are here not just to protect them but also to nurture, support and assist. The balance has never been trickier to achieve but achieve it we must. For the wellbeing of those whose lives are entrusted to us…and for our own wellbeing.