February 11, 2022

Keeping Older Adults in Long Term Care Homes Engaged & Active Amid Omicron

Residents of area long-term care homes have endured a long, hard two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over that time, there were lockdowns that prevented them from seeing family and friends and many activities in their homes were modified or even canceled to align with public health measures. These changes have all had a significant impact on our older adults.

“The restrictions in these settings that are meant to keep older adults safe are also resulting in isolation and loneliness,” says Sandra Easson-Bruno, Director, North Simcoe Muskoka Specialized

Geriatrics Services. “As we make our way through this wave, it’s really important that we keep these older adults active and engaged. It’s so important for their physical, mental and emotional health”.

“For those living with dementia, staying socially engaged and being cognitively stimulated are key to overall quality of life,” Laura Lynn Bourassa, Manager of Education and Support Programs with the Alzheimer Society of Simcoe County adds.

To support the residents and staff of area long-term care homes, the Alzheimer Society of Muskoka, Alzheimer Society of Simcoe County and North Simcoe Muskoka Specialized Geriatric Services partnered together to develop Grab & Go Activity Kits. These kits, which included things like games, art materials, CD players, activity sheets and more, were delivered to all 31 long-term care homes across the Simcoe County and Muskoka region, including Parry Sound.

“During these restrictive periods we saw persons living with dementia experience greater cognitive decline,” says Bourassa. “These kits aim to provide opportunities for enrichment to ward off the negative effects of isolation.”

At the Bob Rumball Home for the Deaf in Barrie, the kits came at the perfect time.

“Receiving this activity kit was a huge blessing,” says Jessica Dyke, Coordinator of Programs at the home. “When the residents are alone in their rooms you can really see that lack of stimulation makes them decline faster. These activities are great to keep their minds active and encourage staff to participate with them and interact more.”

The Pines in Muskoka extended “a huge thank you for the recent donation. As you know, these are challenging times right now and to have extra resources for our residents will provide many hours of sensory stimulation. The staff and residents were excited to see the markers, fidget items, stuffed animals, stereos etc... Thank you for the great work that you do for our community!”

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