Caring for a loved one with dementia, preventing falls and ending loneliness are not issues that can be put on hold simply because we are living in a pandemic.
Hartford Healthcare’s Center for Healthy Aging is honing in on these and other important topics in a series of webinars taking place virtually this summer.
A not-for-profit member of Hartford Healthcare Senior Services, the Center for Healthy Aging has locations at facilities within the HHC network, from the Hospital of Central Connecticut in New Britain to Bradley Memorial in Southington. Educational programs and workshops are typically held at these and other locations throughout the year. When staff learned it would not be possible for these gatherings to take place in-person due to COVID-19, they switched gears in the name of senior health and wellness.
“We had really full calendars moving into the spring and summer,” said Adrianne DeVivo, dementia specialist with the Center for Healthy Aging. “As things progressed we decided it would probably just make more sense for us to start offering them online. We don’t know when activities will get back to being in person and even then, we don’t know if we want to encourage people to be in a small space together at one time. Our team is becoming well-versed in all of these virtual spaces. It’s been a learning curve but has allowed so many people to attend events they never would have made it to otherwise.”
Coming up July 2, 7 and 8 are webinars on “making the most of your telemedicine visit” with Kaitlin Cuas, transitional care nurse. In conjunction with senior centers in West Hartford, Newington and Cheshire, she will provide information about the different types of virtual medical services, tips for setting them up and preparing for a virtual visit with your doctor.
Tuesday, July 14 transitional care nurse Linda Lawrence will discuss “dimensions of wellness for the older adult.”
A webinar covering the serious blood infection known as sepsis is set for July 21 with Nicholas Arsenault, another HHC transitional care nurse.
Other upcoming webinars this July and August will cover storm preparedness for people with long-term medical conditions, home safety for fall reduction and aging in place, ending loneliness and more. All will be live presentations and instructions on how to register can be found at http://hhccenterforhealthyaging.org or by calling 1-877-424-4641.
As a dementia specialist, DeVivo is excited to continue support groups in virtual settings for caregivers of dementia patients. She runs several groups weekly.
“Caring for someone with dementia can feel really lonely, especially while quarantined,” DeVivo said. “Our virtual meetings have allowed us to continue to support people in their homes. We know it helps them feel more confident and self-assured at they provide care to their loved one.”
The Center for Healthy Aging is offering two five-week virtual caregiving series on Zoom this July and August, led by dementia specialists and resource coordinators like DeVivo.
Topics to be covered include good communication, understanding behaviors, structuring a day with activities, safety, caregiver self-care and community resources.
In lieu of meeting with families and seniors over the last three months, staff at the Center for Healthy Aging have been reaching out to people they’ve served in the past to check-in on how they are doing during the pandemic.
“Any senior who has accessed us for a resource or consultation has probably had a phone call from us in the past three months,” DeVivo said. “Through those calls we’ve been able to help a lot of people. I think our resounding message has been just because we have to be physically-distanced does not mean we can’t stay connected. Finding alternative ways to connect is so good for us all during this time.”
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.