February is called the love month, a time for Valentine’s Day, emphasizing the importance of love in our lives, and celebrating the spirit of togetherness with our loved ones.
In the words of Leo Buscaglia, author of Living, Loving & Learning, “Love is always bestowed as a gift – freely, willingly and without expectation. Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
Feeling loved and connected is a core human need. Social connection can lower anxiety and depression, help regulate emotions, lead to higher self-esteem and empathy, and tangibly improve our immune systems.
But, staying connected with loved ones during a pandemic is challenging. Throughout the world, people are struggling to deal with the stress of the coronavirus pandemic, and social distancing measures and stay-at-home orders have made it difficult to show your family you love them.
Due to the impact of social distancing and no-visitor policies, Juniper Communities launched Virtual Connections, an online programming portal designed specifically for senior living communities to combat the serious health risks caused by social isolation. The platform uses digital technology to provide resources for residents, activity directors, caregivers, and family members to increase resident engagement, social activity, and brighten lives during the pandemic.
In setting visitation policies, senior living communities must follow strict safety guidelines and precautions. A hug tent is a creative way for people to safely give and receive a hug for that important physical connection with loved ones. It is a pop-up tent with three fabricated clear plastic walls featuring four sets of arm holes cut into the front wall with plastic sleeves for the hug. The lower set of arm holes is meant to be used by people in wheelchairs. The tent can be disinfected relatively quickly and is able to be transported easily.
In addition to hug tents, Juniper offers residents a myriad of opportunities for social connection, including drive-by car parades, window visits and video chats with family and friends, along with volunteer activities for community food drives and local charities.
With approximately 95% of Juniper residents and associates receiving the COVID-19 vaccine in most of our communities, we’re also exploring safe ways to connect loved ones in person. Stay tuned as we work with state and local officials to make this possible.
The greatest gift we can give to another is our gift of love. As we celebrate the month of love, let us remember to live by the principle, “Love is a gift to be shared.”
For more information on maintaining emotional health during the pandemic, especially those in senior living communities, please view Juniper’s Voices on Aging video: Staying Connected and Maintaining Emotional Health: https://junipercommunities.com/about-us/juniper-village-videos/.