How does COVID-19 impact the lifestyle of Redmond/Kirkland area seniors? What Emerald Heights learned through a carefully planned and executed online series of questions has been enlightening. We want to share a few results with you.
But first, thank you to the 169 local participants who volunteered their thoughts, perceptions, ideas and opinions. Their feedback will positively impact Emerald Heights’ planning and management going forward as we focus on satisfying the independent living needs and wants of area seniors. For their dedication, Emerald Heights is making a monetary donation in their names to three local charities: Hopelink food bank in Redmond, Food Lifeline Hunger Solution in Seattle and Medic One Foundation—Bellevue/Seattle.
We took an empathetic approach to how these area seniors dealt with the pandemic and the restrictive directives imposed upon them by local, state and national entities. It’s an unprecedented time we’re all still experiencing!
Digital survey participants all reside in the Redmond area. Just a handful of them are actually residents of Emerald Heights. Their age-range averages between 74 and 85; 77% are married; and just over 50% of the 169 are currently considering a Life Care senior living community for their future.
The survey began with: In what ways did the COVID-19 stay-at-home order affect your lifestyle?
Respondents were given the choices:
Of the 169 participants, 137 (81%) agreed that the stay-at-home directives affected them most socially, followed by physically (50%) and personally (36%). (Note: respondents were allowed to select multiple options).
Additionally, we asked for candid thoughts and comments about the COVID-19 impact on their lifestyles—here’s where it gets revealing. Area seniors are a vibrant, social bunch. Many had travel plans, both within the United States and abroad. “No travel—I had two big trips canceled. I miss traveling. I hate that I’m unable to see friends who are not well. I just want to go to a restaurant. Can you believe I actually now have a FEAR of shopping?!”
There are those who welcome the time at home: “We’re loving it! Less traffic and noise; getting things done around the house. We’re enjoying the cloistered lifestyle. And those who are channeling their time into learning: “Having ZOOM in my life now and learning more online games can be chalked up in the positive pandemic column. I learned how to order and prepare Blue Apron delivered meals. This time has offered a great opportunity to pursue my neglected hobbies and interests like reading and research.” There was an incredible number of seniors who learned how to ZOOM over the last few months—out of necessity.
One participant recapped the impact of COVID-19 on his overall wellness with this response: “Other than fewer trips to the grocery store, no haircuts and no hugs to and from family, we were not affected. We walk an hour every nice day and exercise at home or do classes online. We do not go out to eat, but eat nutritiously at home. We’re getting ready for a move, so we’re sorting through boxes. We read, watch TV, and talk about politics and protests.”
In the case of the few Emerald Heights residents participating in our survey, we found they’re keeping up with physical wellness goals through creative programming in the form of online exercise, aerobic and strength training classes directed by the Emerald Heights Activities/Fitness instructors, and by getting fresh air and exercise on the one-mile nature trail winding through the campus.
And it appears these residents are not alone. When asked the question, ‘How did the COVID-19 stay-at-home restrictions affect your wellness?’ most of our local neighbors and friends responded, “little or not at all; no change.” Responses included, “I feel safe at home and am walking for my exercise. With my fitness club closed, I create my own routine in our backyard and walk around the neighborhood—in a mask, at a distance. We stay busy and active working outside on our home and yard. I’ve actually improved my physical wellness—I have better control of my diet, am walking 1.5 miles per day, and have lost 11 pounds.
Some are finding it difficult to find the discipline and motivation to stay active—alone. “It’s much easier to exercise with a group of friends. We are ballroom dancers – this will be one of the last things to re-open. Bummer!”
Of 160 responses, most said they were having no problem with eating healthfully while confined to home. One response: “Definitely more repetitive, but still healthy. More intentional eating.” Many are getting assistance with food supplies. Like the Emerald Heights residents who can order their groceries and have them delivered by staff members, 73% of our survey participants report getting help with groceries and essentials from family or friends.
Regarding weight-gain during the stay-at-home: “It’s hard—I’m consuming more of those easy junk foods. Too easy to eat junk food. Much less fresh food available to me due to decreased trips to the market for produce.” Others are adjusting behavior patterns to stay healthy: “Instead of tennis, I’m walking now and have increased my effort to control what I eat to avoid weight gain.”
As the pandemic era stretches into another month, it becomes increasingly more difficult to ward off stress and worry. One respondent reported: “Increased and continuing anxiety concerning the economic situation, food availability, personal and family health.” Another: “Getting adjusted to the lack of freedom to come-and-go, as opposed to thinking about safety first.” Others: “My psychological wellness is more affected than my physical wellness due to isolation and worry about our children. There’s a little more friction these days with my ‘roommate’—my wife.”
Many shared their concerns—and stress—about rearranging medical and dental appointments. “Boy, I’ve got a lot of physical therapy to catch up on!”
Regular communication with family and friends. Text, email, FaceTime, Skype, phone, letter and card writing. ZOOM, ZOOM and more ZOOM! Directives have eased up a little in select areas where backyard or patio visits—with masks and distance—are now considered safe. One respondent says: “We missed a lot of important celebrations—like Easter, the egg hunt, the kids, the grandkids—but we’re settling for happy times online!”
At Emerald Heights, ZOOM and video chats are standard operating procedure among residents these days. We’ve also hosted car parades, and Mariachi bands and bagpipers on the outside perimeters of our campus – allowing our residents to view from their own private balcony —all in an attempt to drive the virus far away—and keep everyone’s spirits up.
We hope that a big portion of our survey respondents will one day be residents of Emerald Heights. After all, they count their most important features in a community to be exercise and fitness amenities (86%), walking trails (84%), social and recreational opportunities (83%), flexible dining (82%) and availability of on-site healthcare (78%). Emerald Heights offers all of their wants and desire and proudly will deliver!
If you’ve decided a LifeCare senior living community might be for you, explore Emerald Heights by visiting our website, photo & video galleries, Floor Plan Fit Calculator and Facebook page. And in the near future, we hope to give you a personal tour of our community. Call 866-822-0916 or complete our online form.