Allies, friends and givers offer support and fun

by Touchmark
Without question, we are all living in uncertain and challenging times that have upended normal routines. While the news seems to grow grimmer each day, it becomes ever more important for all of us to focus on the things we can control in our lives.

Maintaining social distancing and staying in one’s own home are the only ways to flatten the curve of COVID-19. Like retirement communities throughout the area, Touchmark in the West Hills has been following the recommendations of national, state and local agencies. Only essential individuals like staff are able to enter the full-service retirement community. Every person is screened upon entering by having their temperature taken and answering a few health-related questions.

Housekeeping staff are meticulously cleaning high-touch, high-use areas multiple times a day, and all common areas, including dining venues, have been closed for weeks. Likewise, all group activities have been canceled, and residents remain in their homes.
Team members are focused on creating joyful moments and offering playful activities and entertainment. This includes dining servers who deliver meals three times a day to resident homes and Life Enrichment/Wellness staff who bring door-to-door treats, snacks and smiles.

“Each day, we’re coming up with new ideas for fun and creative ways to spark joy,” says Director of Life Enrichment/Wellness Heidi Judge. She cites as examples the theme dress-up days, such as wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day.

The delivery carts, which carry sundry items similar to what can be found at a farmers market, also are festooned. “Residents look forward to our trips along the hallways as we knock on their doors to take their temperature each day and distribute brain-building activities,” Judge says.

“We also just started an “Act of Kindness Hour,” where residents can choose an item from our kindness menu and request that it be delivered to a neighbor elsewhere in the community.” Examples include songs, flowers and milkshakes. Judge also says they have created an activity game that encourages various wellness routines (see photo example).
Residents also are staying connected with other residents through the Touchmark Facebook group and health and fitness classes. Connecting with family members and distant friends is made easier thanks to today’s digital connections, like FaceTime and Skype.

“Staff get as much enjoyment as residents do from the various activities that happen and enjoy a complimentary meal during their shifts,” says Judge.

Managing stress during stressful times

Touchmark reminds staff, residents and neighbors of some simple yet vitally important steps all can take to boost the immune system and reduce stress:

  • Practice good sleeping habits.
  • Eat healthy, balanced meals and avoid excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Stay active and include cardio (walking, running and biking), flexibility (stretching, practicing yoga), muscle strengthening (using weights or your body for resistance) and balance (standing on one leg, engaging your core muscles).
  • Practice mindfulness through meditating, knitting, taking a bath and other calming, pleasurable activities.
  • Limit how much news you read or watch to a daily update.
  • Keep in touch with family and friends through phone calls and digital connections.

Judge reminds everyone, “We will get through this together. Especially now, remember all the allies, friends and givers in your life — and let them know how much you care about them.”