By Rick Banas of BMA Management, Ltd.
Oh the weather outside is frightful, but inside it’s so delightful!
Certainly these words from Bing Crosby’s song “Let It Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow” are apt this winter.
Here in Chicago, we already are well above the full season averages for snow fall, the number of days when the temperature fails to get above freezing, and the number of days that the ground has been covered with snow.
The past two nights have been among the coldest of this winter season, with temperatures dropping well below zero and wind chills down to 20° to 25° below.
At this time last week, we were still digging out from the Blizzard of 2011, which featured the combination of 20+ inches of snow, 50+ mile-an-hour gusts of wind, flashes of lightning and claps of thunder.
It’s during times such as these that the benefits of living in a senior living or assisted living community become so amplified, as told to me by residents and their families.
Residents don’t have to worry about running out, or finding someone to take them, to stock up on things as warnings of the need to prepare for a blizzard pound the airwaves on the radio and television. They don’t have to worry about shoveling or snow blowing driveways and sidewalks nor about being isolated in a home alone.
Even more importantly for those in assisted living, they don’t have to worry about a relative, home health agency or meal delivery service being able to reach them to provide them with something nutritious to eat, help with medications or the personal assistance that they need.
As I listened to those at our communities recap all of the steps they took to ensure that residents would be safe and secure during the Blizzard of 2011, the following two stories in particular captured my attention.
Cabin Fever Party
At our Eagle Ridge of Decatur affordable assisted living community in Decatur, Illinois, board games were used to help relieve boredom.
The community hosted a Cabin Fever Party to help residents ride out the storm.
“We went down to the Activity Room, pulled out every game we had, and brought them all to the Dining Room,” says Kristi Ruderman, Administrator. With Big Band music playing in the background, residents and staff, including the department heads, played Yahtzee, Scrabble, poker, checkers, Bunko, and juice pong. While playing, residents munched on freshly baked banana bread, cookies and Snickerdoodles and sipped hot chocolate.
The residents talked about how happy they were that they didn’t have to be outside.
But they are not the type to never go anywhere or do anything, says Robin Bauerle, Director of Marketing. They are on-the-go, visiting friends and family and going to the Mall, beauty shops and exercise. They love the outings we offer to places such as the Bement County Opry and Prairie Gardens.
Since they don’t like to be stuck inside, we didn’t want them to become bored because they had nothing more to do than watching all the snow accumulate outside.
“We want to add quality and fun to their lives,” Kristi says, in addition to making sure they receive the help and assistance that the need.
At our Heritage Woods of Sterling affordable assisted living community in Sterling, Illinois, residents took notice as department heads moved into the community to spend the night of the blizzard with them.
“We ate together, bowled on Wii, played cards, popped popcorn and watched a movie” before retiring for the evening,” says Rae Ann Higley, Resident Services Coordinator.
Staff made sure that the residents were safe and warm while the world around us was a whirlwind on snow, ice and wind.
In the morning, everyone pitched in to make sure that their bellies were full. As we helped pour coffee and serve food, we were reminded about how well the Dietary staff knows the likes and dislikes of residents – for this resident, it’s ½ Cornflakes™ and ½ Cheerios™ – mixed together – not in two separate bowls; this resident wants milk in a tall glass, not small; this resident likes tomato juice with ice.
During the Blizzard, the community also posted updates and pictures of what was going on at Heritage Woods of Sterling on Facebook to help provide comfort and peace of mind to family members.
“It is nice not to have to worry about our loved ones in the midst of this huge blizzard,” one family member commented in thanking Heritage Woods for the Facebook postings. “I feel very comfortable that he is well taken care of.”
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and let us know.
“BMA Management is the leading provider of affordable assisted living in Illinois
and one of the 20 largest providers of assisted living in the United States.”
Tags: Affordable Assisted Living Community, assisted living, Below Zero, Bement County Opry, Blizzard, Blizzard of 2011, Board Games, Cabin Fever, Eagle Ridge of Decatur, Heritage Woods of Sterling, Kristi Ruderman, Prairie Gardens, Rae Ann Higley, Robin Bauerle, senior living, Slumber Party, The BMA Blog