Fairbanks nursing home finds creative ways to keep residents healthy mentally and emotionally

Nursing homes like the Denali Center have been close to the public since the COVID-19 pandemic...
Nursing homes like the Denali Center have been close to the public since the COVID-19 pandemic started. This has been taking a toll on residents who are lacking the social interaction they need.(John Dougherty/KTVF)
Published: Sep. 3, 2020 at 12:31 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The COVID-19 Pandemic has been hard on everyone , but for senior citizens, who are at higher risk of serious illness from the virus, safety measures have taken their toll. While these measures have helped keep residents safe, are hard on them emotionally and mentally.

“Loneliness, helplessness and boredom are big factors of living in a nursing home, and COVID has definitely made that so much more apparent now,” said Ruth Pomeroy, the activities manager for Denali Center.

Before the pandemic Pomeroy said that they would bring dogs into the center and even had babies and toddlers to help keep the residents happy. Families were also allowed to come and visit the residents in person, to talk and hug each other. Now that nursing homes are closed, they are coming up with creative ways to help residents.

“We had a mothers day parade and a fathers day parade. The pioneers of Alaska hosted a Parade and came by for us, and then last week we celebrated national dog day and and Companions Inc people came and they did a parade of dogs around Denali Center property,” Pomeroy said.

They also have added treats like smoothies to the menu and are celebrating special food holidays. Pomeroy said Wednesday was National Cheeseburger Day and they bought 50 Wendy’s cheeseburgers to celebrate the day.

They also have encouraged people to send letters to the residents. Pomeroy said they published an article in the Rualite magazine asking for letters and received thousands cards from Alaska, California, Washington, Idaho and Oregon.

While coming in and visiting isn’t an option right now, she said families and friends can take advantage of technology to do video calls and phone calls. She said one resident had a 100th birthday party and her family went outside of the window and talked over an iPad. She also said that they have visiting booths.

“Denali Center has also created a visiting booth, so it is like a plexi-glass desk where we can provided opportunities to visit outside and do that by appointment as well,” Pomeroy said.

Pomeroy said that everyone can help the residents by following health guidelines that will help cases go down and places to open sooner.

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