Beachwood Commons Assisted Living has risen to the challenge to keep residents happy, healthy and engaged

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The staff at Beachwood Commons Assisted Living has risen to the challenge to keep residents happy, healthy and engaged. Find out how they’ve gone above and beyond

By Mary Malik

As we continue to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, the elderly and those who care for them have a unique perspective on these challenging times—and how together we’ll not only get through them, but also come out stronger on the other side. The elderly population may be at a greater risk for the disease and suffer more serious consequences when contracting Covid-19, but we sure can learn from them when it comes to responding to life’s difficulties and discovering strengths we never knew we had.

Daily life at Beachwood Commons Assisted Living may have changed, but residents and staff are working together to keep everyone healthy, active and engaged.

Terri H., a resident for 10 months, admits this has been a challenging time for her, but she’s relying on some life skills she didn’t even know she had to get her through.

“It’s been especially hard not to be able to see family and friends in person,” says Terri. “But I’ve learned that I have a lot more patience than I ever gave myself credit for. I’ve really polished my FaceTime and email skills, and communicated with family members I’d lost contact with.”

Terri credits the “slower pace” of her days now for bringing her closer to family members she hadn’t connected with in a while. As a retired dietician who held a high-level management position in a large hospital system, Terri was used to a busy, fast paced lifestyle before retirement, and continued to have visitors while coming and going as she pleased after coming to live at Beachwood Commons.

“I have made many new friends here,” says Terri. “If I were still in my condo, I would have no one to see or talk to due to recommended home isolation for seniors. Here I have those daily personal connections.”

Terri has also rediscovered her love of gardening by offering to take care of the raised gardens in the Beachwood Commons courtyard.

“I always loved gardening at my home but moved to a high-rise condominium after I retired and had to give that up,” says Terri. “It’s been nice to be able to get back to it.”

The staff at Beachwood Commons has been busy discovering all kinds of new ways to engage residents, and that has often involved focusing on the hobbies they had before transitioning to assisted living.

“With residents spending more time alone in their apartments, we’ve been spending more one-on-one time with them discovering their likes and dislikes, and what they used to spend their time on,” says Sharon Nicholas, health services liaison. “We use this to keep them engaged either in virtual form with all that’s available on the internet, or involved in activities like gardening, reading or puzzles that they can do while practicing proper social distancing.”

Sharon has been assisting the Activities Team with leading and planning activities for seniors in an assisted living setting for many years and says the staff has met the Covid-19 challenge with creativity and spontaneity.

“The situation has really pushed us to think about how we can engage residents physically and mentally,” says Sharon. “It’s difficult when they can’t be social with each other, so we need to be that personal connection for them now.”

Sharon says activities like Wine Down Wednesday and door-to-door manicures have helped with making those connections and spending quality time with residents.

“These activities allow for one-on-one visits with our residents that didn’t happen as often in the past,” says Sharon. “We are hearing our residents express their feelings during this time. It’s interesting and a real privilege for us to hear their perspectives and listen as they offer their wisdom.”

Although residents at Beachwood Commons are managing through the pandemic, they do miss the physical connections to family and friends. The staff is delighted that as of early June, residents and families are being slowly reunited, social distancing style, through pre-scheduled Front Porch Visits.

“We know how difficult this separation has been for our residents and their families,” says Sharon. “We genuinely appreciate their understanding and adherence to the guidelines that we are required to follow for the health and safety of everyone.”

And even though social distancing is still required, that doesn’t stop the lemonade socials in the beautiful courtyard at Beachwood Commons from taking place on a daily basis. With the recent warm and dry weather, walks on the outdoor walking path and just opening the windows to the fresh air and sunshine are helping residents and families connect and cope with the changes.

“We truly are in this together as a community,” says Terri. “Things will be as they were soon enough, but until then I have a community of friends and staff here keeping me safe, healthy and happy.”

Beachwood Commons is located at 3995 Green Road in Beachwood. For more information, call 216-295-1700 or check the website