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Retirement home plans safe Thanksgiving activities for residents

Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 3:21 AM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - While we are having to adjust our at-home plans for Thanksgiving, nursing homes and retirement communities will be making their own changes to keep vulnerable residents safe.

Normally, the changing and falling leaves around Brookestone Village is a welcome sign of the holiday season to come.

“Honestly a lot of days are hard because they just want to see their family," Sarah Bird, the life enrichment coordinator at the retirement community said.

With the Douglas County positivity rate hovering around 30%, the doors of Brookestone will stay closed to visitors.

“We’re kind of in a phase where residents are in their room all of the time, so thinking of the holidays it’s very hard to think of things that you can do,” Bird said.

There’s a lot they can’t do this year, but Bird is working closely with the dietary team to plan an extra holiday meal to try and fill the void.

“We’re going to offer the traditional, home-cooked Thanksgiving meal at lunch and supper so that, you know if you didn’t get your fill of Turkey or you want to try something different at the second meal you can," Kristin Ellison, the dietary manager said.

Instead of sitting together in their dining area, residents will have to take their food to their rooms. The retirement community is also partnering with two preschools, La Petite Academy and King Of Kings Preschool, to have kids draw placemats for the seniors.

Staff at Brookestone Village is helping to organize video calls and window visits with families so their residents don’t feel as alone.

“It’s not the same if you can hug that person you haven’t seen in for while or have a nice conversation and the genuine laughter that happens when you’re together," Ellison shared.

While familiar sounds of laughter won’t fill the crisp air, Kelcee Matousek hopes signs of what residents are thankful for this year will keep them positive this Thanksgiving and looking towards the future.

“Almost all of them say I’m thankful for my family," Matousek, the community relations coordinator said. "They love them, they miss them. Talking to them through a portal or a tv or a small screen just isn’t the same as hugging and embracing and holding hands. We’re really hopeful for a time where we can have that happen again.”

Bird, Ellison, and Matousek all said that we as a community need to work together to get the positivity rate down so seniors in retirement homes can have more freedom to move around and possibly see their families.

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