It’s no secret that having isolation during the pandemic has led to an increase in, or worsening of, mental and physical health conditions. Perhaps no other demographic has felt the effects more than older adults who live alone.
Isolating at home may have kept many seniors safe from COVID-19. However, being unable to engage with others regularly has created a whole different set of problems. Including:
- depression (which can result in loss of appetite)
- sleep loss
- cognitive decline
- overall apathy
Those can all lead to deterioration in physical health. According to the National Institute on Aging, the physical conditions that can stem from social isolation and loneliness are:
- high blood pressure
- heart disease
- a weakened immune system
Residents at Park Senior Villas are far less likely than older adults living alone to experience loneliness and social isolation. Why? Because our communities are structured in a way that fosters a family atmosphere. Both for those who live here and also for their families and our staff.
Instead of having to stay in a room all to themselves during the height of the pandemic, residents at Park Senior Villas were able to socialize. Residents interacted with the other residents in their villa and, of course, the caregivers and other staff members who were as familiar as family. In fact, one family member even said that while the rest of the world had to learn to adapt when the coronavirus hit, nothing changed for her dad, who is living at Park Senior Villas at Goodyear. And for that, she was very grateful. We’ll share more of what she told us later in this post.
At Park Senior Villas, Residents Don’t Experience Isolation
If you’re not already familiar with how our communities are set up, here’s a quick overview of our personalized care model. Each of our four communities has a neighborhood of homes, or villas, on several acres of scenic park-like property with pathways and plenty of places to relax and enjoy the outdoors in a safe and secure setting. The newer locations also have a bistro, and all four have pavilions or other shaded outdoor areas where residents within the neighborhood can get together for a planned activity or an impromptu gathering.
Each villa has a great room where residents can engage with one another and participate in activities together. The residents’ rooms are adjacent to the great room, and there’s a kitchen and a dining room as well as the usual spaces you’d find in a typical family residence. Plus, each villa has a different amenity that, under normal circumstances, everyone within the community can share, such as a salon, theater, or exercise room.
The Best Of Both Worlds: Privacy & Socialization
In this type of setting, residents have the privacy of their own room when they want it. And if they want the company of others, all they need to do is step outside of their room. Residents are often drawn in by the sounds of music and conversation or the aromas wafting from the kitchen and will choose to explore what’s going on in other parts of the villa.
“We provide the best of both worlds, where you have the intimacy of living in a home, yet you have the amenities you would normally find in a much larger community,” said Christina Ryan, chief operations officer.
Although we had to curtail our activities to some extent because of the pandemic, we typically have a calendar of events planned for each community so that residents have lots of options for sharing time with one another and their loved ones.
Even when activities were limited because of COVID-19 restrictions, our staff got creative and found ways that residents could safely interact—like walkie-talkie bingo! We also had several themed car parades, where the friends and families of residents decorated their cars and “paraded” through the neighborhoods so their loved ones could go out and watch, wave, and cheer them on.
Incidentally, staff members weren’t the only creative ones. Residents kept their spirits up by finding their “inner artist” with a variety of art projects, along with family Zoom sessions and live music courtesy of Lorenzo Productions.
Reintroducing In-Person Indoor & Outdoor Visitations
Most residents of Park Senior Villas have been fully vaccinated. This means we can take advantage of the revised visitation guidelines from the Arizona Department of Health Services—and are we ever excited about that!
To keep everyone as safe as possible, we do ask that all visitors make an appointment rather than simply dropping by. Additionally, visitors no longer need a negative COVID-19 test but are asked to check in at the office to receive a visitor’s pass. Residents and visitors are still required to wear masks and maintain a safe social distance. You can read more about our updated COVID-19 visitation guidelines here.
“Naturally, we’re still following the infection controls because COVID is still out there,” Christina said. “But it means so much to be able to welcome family members into our villas again to be with their loved ones. We’ve all missed that so much.”
“We can also get our activities calendars rolling again,” said Joey French, vice president of operations. “We can start doing more group activities now and open up the community a little more.”
Some of the planned activities at the different Park Senior Villas locations are a petting zoo, live music events, “movies in the park,” and several community outreach events—including an online silent auction with the proceeds to be donated to a charity chosen by the greater community.
We’re also planning to offer a monthly virtual or in-person wellness education program that will be open to residents, families, and people who are interested in joining our community.
Even From Far Away, Family Members, Residents, & Staff Connect
Joellen Kodet’s dad, Joel, moved into one of our Goodyear villas in March 2020, just a week before Governor Ducey issued an executive order to close non-essential businesses and enact restrictions.
Joel had been living in a nearby 55+ adult community. Joellen, who lives in Minnesota, said that she and her brother, Kevin, who lives in Chicago, realized that their dad needed more help, including 24-hour care.
“I bet we looked at at least 15 places,” Joellen said. “My brother and I were all over the Valley. We both knew right away that [Park Senior Villas] was it. I could’ve never left my dad in those [other] places. They’re just too big.”
Under normal circumstances, both Joellen and Kevin are in the Phoenix area to visit their father many times throughout the year, but the coronavirus changed that. Joellen hasn’t been able to visit her dad for a year now—which means she has relied on the staff at Park Senior Villas even more.
How Park Senior Villas Helps Residents Thrive
“When you’re so far away, it’s really difficult,” she said. “For me, the greatest thing about where he is has been the communications with Jannea [Downs, the general manager] and Rosa [Belcher, the director of health and wellness]. They are so amazing, and I’m so grateful for their care. It has been such a relief because every day when I talk to my dad, he is always happy. He’s really, I think, thriving.” She said her dad has a “long list” of people on the staff who are special to him.
“In this difficult time, this has been an amazing place for him. No matter what he needs, Jannea and Rosa are always right there. We don’t have to worry. They have just done a fabulous job.”
Joel agreed with her. “I really enjoy myself here. I couldn’t be in a better place.”
The Difference At Park Senior Villas
Joellen noted that being in one of our villas with other people, instead of in an apartment building or his previous residence, made a huge difference for her father the past year.
“Not one thing changed for him when everything shut down,” she said. “There was only a small number of people in the home, and everybody stayed COVID-free. He still got to go to the dining room for his meals.
“Where he lived before, they had their dinners served in their room. They couldn’t leave. My dad would’ve struggled with that. I would have had to move in there with him because he couldn’t have done that,” she added. “Both my brother and I said, ‘Wow. He got there in the nick of time.’”
“Where he is, it’s small, and he has all the attention. He didn’t have to make any changes—even as the whole world made a ton of changes. He didn’t feel isolated.”
“They couldn’t find a better place for me, I’ll tell you that,” Joel confirmed.
When asked about his favorite part of living at the villa, Joel said he enjoys watching his sports, listening to music, and playing bingo. He especially looks forward to the desserts that are served at lunch and dinner.
See If One Of Our Communities Is Right For You
We invite you to learn more about the lifestyle and programs we offer at Park Senior Villas and to schedule a tour. We have resumed in-person tours by appointment (with all safety protocols observed). However, if you prefer to take a virtual tour, let us know and we will gladly arrange to show you around.