Assisted Living home adjusts with the virus

Posted at 5:17 PM, Oct 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-21 05:50:26-04

MARINETTE (NBC 26) — Words can't describe the emotional toll the pandemic has caused on families, especially for our parents or grandparents that live at an assisted living facility. Because of the virus, many places had to limit visitors for everyone's safety.

"I never would have guessed, prior to March, I wouldn't be able to see my mom every single day," said Kathy Olson.

Losing that face-to-face contact was something many of us never dreamed of, but for families like Kathy and her mother Toni, they've been keeping their chins up and adjusting. This is especially true when it comes to use of technology, which caregivers can help with at The Cottages at Lake Park in Marinette, as Toni jokingly said, "I knew everything," when her daughter explained she's gotten a lot better with Facetime.

Like many care facilities, The Cottages learned to adjust with the virus. To help keep everyone safe, they're making real-time decisions every day about how to handle their visitor policy.

"I think we learned an enormous amount about infection control and information outlets," said General Manager Cara Peterson.

Peterson adding while the care has not changed, except for more masks and PPE, one of the biggest differences they've had is the relationship between their caregivers and residents.

"We've increased shifts and caregivers to make up for that loss of family time," she said. "The caregivers have really become family and caregivers at the same time."

Increasing shifts also called for increasing communication with families through letters, Facebook videos, and phone calls. For Executive Director Tom Kosman, it also meant staying positive for everyone that lives there.

"You have to stay upbeat for the residents," Kosman said. "If we start thinking all doom and gloom its the residents that end up suffering even more. They're going through enough not being able to see their families face-to-face everyday, not having that touch, that interaction day to day. Just staying upbeat and positive and thinking of new ways to keep them happy and make them happy."

The facility continues to make decisions based on how the virus is in their community. They're hoping, like most of us, we can find a way to work together to fight the virus so that face-to-face visits will be the best option.

"Be nice and keep your distance, and stay friendly and positive," Toni said. Her daughter Kathy adding, "This too shall pass."