This articled was published in the The Vail Voice, April, 2020, p. 29
WHY WORRY ABOUT THE ELDERLY?
They go by many names: elders, seniors, the elderly, older people. No matter the name you give them, they are typically in their sixties or later years. Right now, in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, they are considered the most vulnerable population. This vulnerability is about more than a threat to life. It is also about the threat of being isolated and alone.
As governments invoke more and more restrictions on travel beyond our front doors, the risk of loneliness and its consequent feelings of depression and despair increase. As these restrictions increase, the need to stay in touch—and the benefits it brings—grows far greater. This is especially true for our elders, whether they live with us, far from us, or in long term care facilities.
STAYING IN TOUCH
We are fortunate to live in times when staying in touch without touching is much easier than it once was. The telephone, whether landline or wireless, is the most prevalent and easiest to use. Video conversations, using applications such as Skype, FaceTime, and Zoom are even better. All it takes is a computer, tablet, or smart phone, and an Internet connection, at each end of the conversation.
Establishing the electronic connection is the easy part. Connecting regularly and in ways that are nurturing for the elder offer a bit more challenge. We hardly need prompts when talking with family, though friends or neighbors may take a little more thought. It is amazing the good feelings that come from hearing, “Hi, I’m just calling to check that you’re OK. How are you doing?”
The conversations need not be long, but they should be regular. It helps a great deal if the caller has a few questions ready. Asking questions, over and above the requisite “how are you” shows you are truly interested in conversing with the elder at the other end.
ELDER CARE FACILITIES
Elders in Long Term Care (LTC) facilities have something of an advantage when it comes to human contact. They are in close proximity to other residents and in even closer contact with the staff in these facilities. Even so, calls from loved ones are very important. As most LTC facilities have curtailed visits from family and friends, telephone and video calls are more important than ever.
Staying apart from friends and family isn’t easy. It’s made far more bearable by staying in touch, regularly and with obvious concern for the other person, especially when that person is an elder.
Bio: Gary Fenstermacher is president of Academy Services Corporation, the non-profit owner and operator of Academy Villas, an assisted living residence in Academy Village. He is a former University of Arizona college dean and professor emeritus at the University of Michigan
Academy Villas Receives a Perfect Score in State Review
When the Arizona Department of Health Services announced a perfect score for the Academy Villas on a recent review, the staff members were thrilled. A perfect score indicates that the State Regulatory agency, in an on-site review, found no deficiencies in the operations of the Villas. This is the second time in a row that the Villas received this score. Therefore, the next review will take place in two years rather than one.
Arizona State Reviews of Assisted Living Facilities
Reviews of Assisted Living facilities in Arizona are not announced ahead of time. Thus, the staff is completely surprised when the State reviewers walk in the front door. Considerable time is taken to conduct a review since the checklist is long. Examples of the many items that are examined by the reviewers are:
Matching Medication Administration Records to orders received by physicians to ensure that every medication given has an order
Examining all medication boxes to ensure that they are locked and contain no expired medications
Looking at all employee files to check for references and are compliant with CPR & first aid certification in the State of Arizona
Checking TB results on residents and employees that have to be repeated yearly
Testing water temperatures and the review disaster plan manual.
Any issue in the items examined by the reviewers is listed as a deficiency.
The Academy Villas Staff
The staff work that goes into maintaining a healthy and nourishing environment for the Villas residents is extensive and often unnoticed. This involves maintaining many records, vigilance concerning individual residents’ medications and other needs, and maintaining a safe and clean environment both within and outside the Villas. Our Villas staff work together to ensure that all of these steps are followed, and that the residents feel safe and enjoy their life in the Villas. It is reassuring to the staff that their vigilance pays off in a highly successful review by the State. Congratulations to the staff.
William Archibald, an Academy Villas resident, sings in the local Vail Chorale. Recently, at one of their concerts, he was a soloist. Songs from the 1940’s was the theme of the concert. The Arizona Senior Academy hosted the concert, and not a chair was empty. Following his solo, Mr. Archibald rejoined the rest of the group to sing, in harmony, a set of popular war and other songs during and after World War II.
The Vail Chorale
The Vail Chorale was founded seven years ago. At that time, the founding director was a resident of the Academy Village. Further, a number of residents from Academy Village and the Villas are members. The chorale belongs to the Vail area community and is open to anyone who is interested in singing. Presently, a wide variety of members range in age, gender and backgrounds. During the year, the chorale rehearses once a week, and presents a number of concerts.
Music in the Villas
Music is an integral element in life in the Academy Villas. For example, residents can attend the weekly music presentations at the Arizona Senior Academy. Or, they can watch these concerts in the Villas on the TV. In addition, local musicians travel to the Villas and engage the residents in singing old and familiar songs.