In light of the current healthcare crisis facing our country…one in which senior living communities have been particularly hard hit…many people are re-thinking whether or not they should move their loved ones into independent living, assisted living or skilled nursing. While this is a thoughtful decision at any time, it is being evaluated with even more caution now. But in reality, leading Life Plan Communities like St. Catherine’s Village have measures in place to minimize health risks to their residents while providing high quality care and much needed social interaction.
Even prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, St. Catherine’s Village adhered to best practices for cleanliness and hygiene as well as implemented strict infection control procedures. Before the start of each flu season, for example, the award-winning community requires not only its staff be vaccinated, but also contract workers and private duty staff. This has garnered St. Catherine’s Village a place on the Immunization Action Coalition (IAC) Influenza Vaccination Honor Roll—the only Life Plan Community in the Jackson, Mississippi area to receive this designation.
Earlier this year, St. Catherine’s Village put in place additional precautions to reduce the spread of infectious diseases, screening anyone who came onto campus and requiring employees to wear masks and personal protective equipment as set forth by CDC and Mississippi Department of Health guidelines. These standards would be difficult, if not impossible, for seniors to achieve in their own homes or while living with family.
For seniors who do experience signs of illness at St. Catherine’s Village, response time for care is nearly immediate thanks to nurses and security on campus who are available 24 hours a day. There is no need for lengthy travel to get tested and physician’s appointments can be scheduled quickly.
And although both residents and staff at St. Catherine’s Village currently are practicing social distancing, seniors still are able to connect on a human level to others around them. This ability to form strong bonds with their peers and the bigger community generally leads to healthier behaviors and better overall health, according to the Year 2 Report of “The Age Well Study.” The study was commissioned to understand the impact of living in a Life Plan Community on residents’ health and wellness, comparing outcomes for seniors who live in such an environment to those who don’t.
Results initially published in “The Age Well Study” showed multiple benefits for seniors who live in a Life Plan Community, which is an age-restricted property that includes multiple levels of care—independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing—on one campus. Findings from Year 1 revealed that Life Plan Community residents, on average, have relatively high levels of health and wellness compared to older adults in the community at large.
The Year 2 Report takes a closer look at how important social ties are for well-being, even though they tend to be harder to maintain with age. Prior research that suggests loneliness, social cohesion, community belonging, religiosity, and spirituality each contribute to senior health outcomes. In this study, spirituality—defined as a sense of connection with something greater than one’s self—was associated with several measures of healthy behaviors and overall health. Results also support reducing loneliness for older adults, concluding that a greater sense of social cohesion and community belonging were positively related to healthy behaviors and health outcomes. In short, careful evaluation of a senior’s social environment is a key factor in his or her health and wellness.
So, as you weigh your options for finding care for your older loved ones, don’t be misled by the negative stories you hear on the news. Do your own research. Speak to the senior living experts at a Life Plan Community such as St. Catherine’s Village and determine for yourself if the countless benefits outweigh the risks.