New Guidelines for Visiting Reopening Senior Living Communities

May 28, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a lot of change and hardship, especially for families with older adults who were separated by stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines. With older populations being at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, according to the CDC, keeping our beloved senior citizens safe from illness was everyone’s imperative. Unfortunately, safety protocols also prohibited visitors from many senior living communities, including Aviva. The easing of restrictions in Florida and other states means that, in some places, families can now, finally, see their loved ones in person, and we’re as overjoyed as they are. However, we all need to work together and follow CDC guidelines to protect ourselves and minimize the chances of spreading the virus. 

Remember that visitation at assisted living communities and skilled nursing units like Aviva’s Anchin Assisted Living & Memory Care and Benderson Skilled Nursing & Rehabilitation remains suspended. Visitation to these higher level of care settings is subject to the restrictions set by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid or the state government. Check with your loved one’s community for more information. 

Whether you are visiting a loved one at Aviva, or at another senior community as they reopen and ease restrictions, please do your part to make it a wonderful memory for everyone. Here are seven new rules* based on CDC guidelines that everyone should follow when visiting a reopened senior living community.

*These rules apply to visitors of Aviva. Remember to check with your loved one’s community for their specific guidelines.

1. Call Before Visiting Your Senior Relatives

Before COVID-19, the rules for visiting a senior depended on the type of housing where they lived, with independent living having the fewest restrictions. However, the proximity of different levels of senior care to each other means all communities must now take the same levels of precaution. Whether your loved one lives in independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing or memory care, please call the community ahead of time or check their website for their policies on reopening after the COVID-19 closures. The staff may ask that you make an appointment or sign up for a time slot, wear a mask, limit the number of visitors, or use a certain entrance.

2. Plan the Timing of Your Visit to Avoid Crowding

The rules for social distancing include keeping at least six feet of distance from other people and staying out of crowded places. Whether or not you need an appointment, consider what time is best to visit your loved ones to maintain social distancing. For example, try to avoid mealtimes or periods of high activity such as the morning when more residents may be on walks or exercising. Respecting schedules allows staff and residents to move about the building freely without crowds or distractions from their essential work. Weekends tend to be busy times for visitors, too, so if you’re able, plan to visit on a weekday.

3. Follow Mask Policies and Guidelines

Even if you don’t feel sick, wearing a cloth face cover or mask can help prevent you from spreading germs to others. Here at Aviva, we ask that you wear a mask at all times when visiting our community, including inside residents’ rooms or apartments. The CDC recommends everyone wear cloth face coverings in public settings when social distancing is difficult to maintain since asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic individuals can spread the virus. We know, it feels strange not to see someone’s beautiful smile, especially when you’ve been missing it. Some folks have gotten creative, like by creating masks with smiles printed on them or by communicating with gestures like “heart hands” and sign language. It’s not quite the same, but remember who you’re doing it for. It’s also important to wear your mask correctly by putting it over your nose and mouth and securing it under your chin.

4. Wash Your Hands for at Least 20 Seconds

You may be a little tired of hearing this advice, but it remains the simplest and most important action to prevent the transmission of contagious illness. Wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water immediately before interacting with anyone in the senior community as well as after every visit to a public setting or contact with food or waste. Most senior communities will have hand sanitizer dispensers around the campus, which help kill germs when soap and water are not immediately nearby.

5. Practice Safe Physical Distancing 

Remember, you’re never really “socially” distant from someone you care about; you’re always able to stay connected in other ways. But, when it comes to physical space and face-to-face contact, it’s still recommended by the CDC to avoid groups and maintain at least six feet of physical distancing. Even when in a senior’s apartment or room you should try and maintain the recommended distance between yourself and others.

6. Minimize the Number of People Gathering

To help minimize the possibility of spreading infection, most places, including senior living communities, have been advised by the CDC to strictly limit the number of visitors. At Aviva, we ask that only one family member visits a resident at a time. This prevents overcrowding in apartments. We also ask that you do not invite other residents, outside your family, to join your visit.

7. Limit Visits to Permitted Areas

Even for residents, community amenities, and shared spaces will have limits in place on how many people can use them at a time. These restrictions apply more sternly to visitors. Most senior living communities will require that visitors are restricted to residents’ apartments and avoid resident amenities, like dining rooms and pools, as some residents using these facilities may not be ready to interact with the public. 

Where Can You Find More Information About Aviva’s Reopening Updates?

We know how much you look forward to seeing your loved ones again at Aviva, and we look forward to welcoming you back to our campus. Please follow our guidelines as we continue to put the health and safety of residents first, and stay informed about general recommendations related to reopening after COVID-19 closures. We will keep you updated on any changes via our Facebook page and email. Meanwhile, the AARP continues to update its website with reopening restrictions in each state.

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