Category Archives: Pitman

Blog posts related to United Methodist Communities at Pitman.

How to Best Manage Your Loved One’s Health

Gandhi said it best, “It is health that is real wealth, not pieces of gold and silver.” We often don’t realize how valuable our health is until it’s too late. That’s why we must prioritize it every single day, especially those of us who are seniors or take care of seniors.

A healthy lifestyle is essential to living the most abundant life in your senior years. If you are a caregiver to a senior loved one, there are three core ways you can help keep track of their health. Our assisted living team in Pitman, NJ has provided insight into these methods and hope they will prove useful in your caregiving journey.

  1. Accompany them to all doctor appointments. Arguably, this is the single best way to keep track of your senior loved one’s health. By accompanying them to all doctors’ appointments, you will acquire the most up-to-date information regarding their health status. If there is something in particular you are concerned about, make a list of questions to discuss with their doctor beforehand. Have you noticed any new symptoms? Are any of their prescribed medications causing harmful side effects? You may notice things that your loved one doesn’t realize or forgets to ask about which can prove very helpful in the long run.

  2. Figure out a solid medication management plan. It’s normal for older adults to take multiple medications. It’s also very easy to get them mixed up, accidentally skipping a dose of one and taking a double dose of another. Fortunately, there are different ways to make managing medications easier. For one, buy a color-coded, easy-to-read weekly pillbox and help set it up for mom or dad. Then, decide on a set time to take the AM and PM pills. Once times are set, your senior loved one can use timers on their smartphones or even apps to remind them to take their medications correctly, and on time. You could also set the same timers or download the same on your phone as a back-up. This may take some time and trial and error to figure out what works best for you and most importantly, your loved one.

  3. Encourage healthy diet and exercise. In short, exercise has been proven to enhance seniors’ health, strength, sleep, mood and lower the risk of falls! Just 30 minutes a day of strength and cardio training will help older adults build the necessary muscle mass to keep them moving without any extra help.
    Try yoga, dance classes and short walks around the neighborhood with mom or dad to get started. However, it’s highly recommended to check with their doctor before starting a new exercise routine to ensure two critical things: 1. The exercises are within their ability to perform safely and 2. The exercises won’t make any existing medical conditions worsen.
    Couple this new exercise plan with nutritious foods that are easy to prepare. If your loved one does not acquire the master cooking skills of Chef Ramsey, don’t worry! Instead, bring over some healthy frozen meals that can be easily reheated in the oven at a later date. You could also use this opportunity to take a look at their current fridge situation to make sure they aren’t holding onto greasy or expired food.

Assisted living care services in Pitman, NJ

Here at United Methodist Communities at Pitman, we encourage a healthy senior lifestyle for all assisted living residents with a well-equipped team of licensed nurses, therapists and other health specialists. Our care team can manage many complex medical conditions, all while ensuring a proper diet and exercise plan that is – dare, we say it – fun! Activities like group chair yoga can help keep senior residents engaged and social with people their own age. Put your loved one’s health in the best hands possible by considering UMC at Pitman for assisted living.   

If your loved one requires assisted living care services, please call our senior community in Gloucester County to find out how we can meet their needs, as well as yours. To learn more about our senior care options across New Jersey, please contact United Methodist Communities today at: https://umcommunities.org/new-jersey-elder-care-options/

How to Make New Friends After Retirement

While you settle into your new assisted living community, you may find it a bit lonely at first. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about as many older adults have felt this way at one time or another. It can be difficult to leave a local group of lifelong friends and make new friendships, especially in your senior years. Here are some valuable tips to make fast friends from our assisted living team in Pitman NJ. 

Join a club or group activity 

Joining a club or engaging in group activities are the best ways to meet people with like-minded interests. Here at Pitman, we have many clubs available for our residents to join, such as the Garden Club. Our associates are available 24/7 to encourage and provide assistance to residents who would like to actively take part in community life. Not to mention, playing a cognitive game with a new friend like a puzzle can not only sharpen your social skills, but also sharpen short-term memory and problem-solving skills. 

Be more tech-savvy

Technology is the way of the world now. It’s been especially helpful during the pandemic when face-to-face meetings aren’t always the safest option. Many assisted living communities, including UMC, have tackled the challenge of creating an abundant social life for seniors during COVID-19. It hasn’t always been easy, but technology like Zoom and Facetime has really helped our residents stay connected to family, friends, and other residents. We’ve also used this technology to host group activities safely, such as our monthly virtual trivia competitions. 

Ask assisted living associates for help 

If you’re still not sure how or where to start, ask assisted living associates for help! As mentioned above, the associates are available around the clock to help with not only medical needs, but personal needs as well. Making new friends definitely qualifies as a personal need, as well as an essential one! At UMC at Pitman, we believe in enriching all aspects of our residents’ lives – including their social lives. This is why we strive to provide many diverse activities to suit the interests of all residents. 

 

Community life in Gloucester County, NJ

Making the transition to assisted living can be an adjustment, but when you retire in a great town like Pitman NJ, our residents find that making new friends comes easily with all the fun activities available onsite. Our assisted living residents also have access to all the activity the surrounding community offers, through onsite transportation options. 

If you’d like to see if we’re the right assisted living option in Gloucester County, New Jersey, or would like more information about our active community life, please contact us today. 

 

Heart Disease: Risk Factors, Symptoms and Prevention Tips

There’s no better time than American Heart Month to prioritize our heart health. By adopting healthy lifestyle habits early on, you can prevent heart disease and potentially live longer with a much stronger heart. Our long term care team in Pitman NJ has put together a list of heart disease risk factors, symptoms and invaluable prevention tips to be aware of.  

Heart disease risk factors

Fortunately, most of the risk factors listed below can be managed with smart lifestyle choices. For example, smoking and alcohol consumption can be controlled or eliminated entirely. As for the heart disease risk factors that are uncontrollable, like family history and ethnicity, you are at least able to monitor how it will affect you or a family member specifically.

A family history of coronary artery disease (CAD) may require a higher level of monitoring under the following circumstances: 1. If a prior family member with CAD is a male under 55-years-old. 2. If a prior family member with CAD is a female under 65-years-old.

Other risk factors include:

  • High blood pressure or cholesterol
  • High levels of stress and anxiety 
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol and substance abuse
  • Excessive caffeine use 
  • Physical inactivity 
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Ethnicity 
  • Age
  • Gender 
  • Family history 

Symptoms of heart disease 

There is a large variety of symptoms to look out for when it comes to heart disease. This makes sense when you think about it because there are many different variations of heart disease, such as arrhythmia, atherosclerosis, cardiomyopathy, and CAD. If you or a loved one experiences any of the symptoms below repeatedly or severely, we recommend consulting a primary physician to diagnose your condition appropriately. 

It’s also important to realize that symptoms in women differ greatly from symptoms in men. Heart disease symptoms for women such as nausea, vomiting and anxiety are often overlooked or confused with other conditions. With that said, it’s important for women to see their primary physician immediately if experiencing any severe symptoms listed below.  

  • Chest pain, pressure or congestion
  • Fluttering or racing heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Coldness or numbness in the limbs
  • Shortness of breath  
  • Fever, chills or cold sweats  
  • Fainting or passing out
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Indigestion or gas-like pain in the chest and stomach
  • Sometimes jaw, neck or back pain

 

Heart disease prevention tips 

  • Choose to live a healthier lifestyle. As we mentioned earlier, many of the risk factors for heart disease can be easily controlled. Regular exercise combined with a healthy diet can make all the difference. Eliminate smoking entirely (if applicable) and foods in your diet that are high in saturated fat content like bacon or sausage. 
  • Maintain healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Having a healthy blood pressure and cholesterol numbers are one of the first steps you can take for a healthy heart. Higher levels indicate that your heart is working too hard to pump blood. Your ideal levels may not be someone else’s ideal levels. It’s important to remember that they depend on your unique risk factors and heart history. 
  • Manage stress more effectively. Chronic stress is a serious and often overlooked risk factor for heart disease. If you are constantly overwhelmed or anxious, we recommend speaking to professionals about different stress management methods. 

 

Long-term care in Pitman, NJ 

Here at United Methodist Communities, we are well equipped with a team of licensed nurses, therapists and specialists to manage many complex medical conditions in our senior residents, such as heart disease. We offer the kind of supportive and compassionate long-term care services that can put your mind and the minds of your family members at ease.  


Please call one of our care advisors in Gloucester County to find out how we can meet the needs of your loved one, as well as yourself. To learn more about our long-term care across New Jersey,  please contact United Methodist Communities today.

 

Diabetic Treatments Have Come a Long Way

A day in the life of a person with Type 1 diabetes includes finger pokes to check blood sugar levels, counting carbs, and insulin injections. However, managing this disease hasn’t always been so easy. 

Here is how far we’ve come in the treatment of diabetes and how our assisted living community in Pitman, NJ can help you. Whether you’re newly diagnosed or have been living with diabetes for a while, our full-service community is well equipped to help you manage your diabetes. 

What is diabetes exactly? 

Before we jump into treatments, it helps to really understand what diabetes is. In the simplest terms, diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. To expand on this, the food we eat is broken down into sugar and released into your bloodstream. When blood sugar levels go up, the pancreas releases insulin to turn the sugar in your blood into energy. If you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or doesn’t use insulin effectively. Without insulin to regulate sugar in the blood, more serious health issues can develop over time, such as loss of limbs, heart disease, kidney disease, and vision loss. 

The history of diabetes and the treatments available today

Did you know that insulin wasn’t discovered until the 1920s? I bet you’re wondering how people with diabetes coped before then? Unfortunately, the answer is not very well. Children rarely lived more than a year after diagnosis and adults sometimes lived 10 years with the disease and had many complications, such as loss of limbs. It wasn’t until the 1970s, until we made breakthroughs in treatment. Here are some of the ways to manage chronic diabetes. 

  • Home testing kits so people can check their blood sugar levels 
  • Insulin “pen” delivery system, so people can perform their own insulin injections at home
  • Seeing an endocrinologist (a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of hormone-related diseases like diabetes) frequently 
  • Maintaining a healthy diet and keeping active 

Today, people who practice good home care and see medical professionals on a frequent basis rarely develop the more serious complications associated with diabetes. This is because diabetes is a manageable disease when treated effectively. 

Treating Diabetes at UMC at Pitman

Although there is no cure, this chronic disease is very easy to manage with the right treatment. Here at Pitman, we provide care for residents with diverse medical conditions.  We can help residents living with diabetes to lose excess weight, maintain a healthier diet and keep active. By incorporating all the methods mentioned above, residents can live their most abundant life with diabetes. 

If you’d like to see if we’re the right assisted living option in Gloucester County, New Jersey, or if you’d like more information about our long-term care options, please contact us today. 

3 Cognitive Exercises to Delay Memory Loss

“Minds are like parachutes, they only function when open.” Who knew such a profound message came from Thomas Dewar – yes, the distiller for Scotch whisky. Nevertheless, it’s a quote that everyone should live by, especially those experiencing memory loss.

Many studies have shown that when people keep their minds active, their thinking skills are less likely to decline. With that said, what are some ways to keep our minds active? Just like our bodies, exercise is the best way to take care of our minds as well. Our assisted living team in Pitman, NJ has put together a list of the best cognitive exercises to retain memory function. 

  1. Exercise #1: Puzzles. Besides being fun, puzzles are also a real mental workout! Did you know puzzles can exercise both the left and right side of the brain? The right side of the brain controls your creativity, while the left side is responsible for logic and analytical thinking. Puzzles are also a great way to improve problem-solving skills and short-term memory, as we have to remember the shapes and sizes of puzzle pieces, and then figure out where they fit in.

  2. Exercise #2: Play board games with family. Get your kids, grandkids or close friends together for a weekly game night. Mix it up by trying new games each week. The added bonus to activities like these? Social connections will also help stimulate brain activity. As we are still feeling the effects of COVID-19, it’s important to maintain social distancing and hygienic guidelines when getting together with loved ones. Perhaps, a Zoom game night might be the best call on this one. 

  3. Exercise #3: Learning a new skill. Did you ever want to play the piano? Or how about learning how to speak Italian? Well, now is the time to do it! Learning a new skill increases myelin in the brain. Myelin is the white matter that helps improve our overall brain performance on a number of tasks. People who continue to learn new things are also less likely to develop dementia. This is because dementia is linked to demyelination which is the damage or loss of myelin in the brain.

 

Tapestries® Memory Care at United Methodist Communities in New Jersey 

Our Tapestries® Memory Care focuses on retaining the thinking abilities of each resident by creating customized care plans. We adapt to the natural routines of each person to make them feel comfortable and enrich their quality of life. 

Our associates have been extensively trained in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and keep themselves up to date with the latest research-based practices in memory care. UMC has been successfully welcoming new memory care residents during COVID-19. To read more information regarding our industry-leading guidelines in navigating the Coronavirus, click here

If your loved one suffers from early stages of dementia, please call our assisted living community in Gloucester County to find out how we can meet their needs, as well as yours. To learn more about our Tapestries® Memory Care across New Jersey, please contact United Methodist Communities today at: https://pitman.umcommunities.org/contact/

 

Senior Outreach Opportunities in Pitman, NJ

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s to stay up to date with the latest technology. Our smartphones, tablets and computers have been a godsend during COVID-19 – giving many people a way to connect with loved ones when they can’t physically be with one another. 

This is especially true for older adults who have to be extra careful, as they are in a higher risk group for contracting COVID-19. However, we cannot dismiss how hard it’s been for older people to avoid seeing family members and friends. Now more than ever, older adults need opportunities to connect with others, as well as the community around them. 

The Senior Outreach Committee in Pitman, NJ has been on top of this, and is constantly providing new activities for seniors to take part in safely during this time. With that said, here is a list of senior resources provided by the outreach committee. 

Online games

One of the greatest ways to connect with family and friends – games! And when it’s not possible to be face-to-face, gaming online is the next best option. This online resource provided by AARP will allow older adults to play the games they enjoy alone or with friends. Mahjong, chess, pool – you name it, they have it. 

Virtual tours of museums, parks and aquariums 

In light of adapting to changing conditions, it’s normal for everyone to have the itch to travel. With travel restrictions still in play, virtual tours are great ways to experience new places. Do they want to see a Hawaii volcano up close? Or would they rather see a live feed of endangered aquatic animals? What about a trip to the Musee d’Orsay in Paris? With these resources, seniors can see it all from the comfort and safety of their own homes.  

Workout videos 

Sitting home and doing the same thing everyday is not good, especially for older adults. It’s important to stay active as we age, in order to minimize health issues and maintain a positive mindset. Regular exercise releases endorphins that make us feel happy, and also help keep us motivated and productive throughout the day. Even though gyms may be open, it’s not the best place for seniors during COVID-19. With that said, this online resource provides workout videos appropriate for seniors who are just looking for extra motivation to stay active while at home. 

Helping seniors connect at our community in Gloucester County

While having access to your local senior outreach committee is great, having resources available directly in your home is even better. Here at UMC, we firmly believe with procedures in place like UNITEDforSAFETY, there’s no reason why seniors living in an assisted living community can’t socialize and have some fun too!

With our health and safety protocols in place since the pandemic hit, we have been able to have socially distant group activities like yoga, meditation and movie nights. Our residents have also been able to participate in “theme days,” such as Root Beer Float Day and National Gorgeous Grandma Day (just to name a few). 

To learn more about events and senior resources at our assisted living community in Gloucester County, New Jersey, please contact United Methodist Communities today. 

What is Subacute Rehab?

Subacute rehabilitation is simply another term for short-term rehabilitation. This type of care is offered at skilled nursing facilities within hospitals, physical therapy centers, or even senior living communities. Short-term rehab is complete inpatient care for someone who is experiencing a medical condition that is temporary.

If you or your family member need more time to recover from a bad fall, stroke or surgery, short-term rehab is the best option to move forward. But staying at a hospital may not be the most ideal plan, as multiple overnight hospital stays can be very pricey. So, where should you go? 

United Methodist Communities at Pitman has a full-time rehabilitation staff and nursing team specializing in physical, occupational, speech, and respiratory therapy for our residents. This is a great opportunity for you or your loved one to experience rehab care in a safe, well-equipped, comfortable, and welcoming community before returning back home. 

Common reasons older adults choose short-term rehab at UMC:

  • Recovering from surgery that requires medical supervision and occupational therapy before returning home
  • Restoring and strengthening  mobility, often after a fall 
  • Recovering from a stroke or heart attack 
  • Diagnosed with diabetes, thyroid disease or another condition affecting dietary and medical needs
  • Partial or full speech paralysis due to Bell’s Palsy, stroke, or other conditions 
  • Treatment for  a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) such as chronic bronchitis or emphysema, which causes difficulty breathing 

Common questions surrounding subacute rehab

  • How much will subacute rehabilitation cost? 

Fortunately, this type of care is typically paid for by Medicare. Medicare is a federal program that people pay into as they work over the years. However, financial coverage varies depending on the plan you’ve chosen to pay into. To get a better understanding of your coverage for sub-acute rehab, contact our community today. We’d be happy to talk it through with you or your senior family member. 

  • How long is a typical subacute rehab stay? 

The short answer is it varies. Some people will only stay for a few weeks, while others will stay for months. It is really dependent on the severity of the condition, overall health status of the resident, insurance coverage, and the resident’s ability to leave safely after rehab treatment is complete. 

  • How many hours are dedicated to therapy each day? 

Starting out, you may only be able to tolerate about 30 minutes a day, depending on your condition. As you adjust, the typical duration is about three hours of therapy per day. If at any time you  feel as if you should be getting more therapy each day, ask your rehab specialist if the therapy minutes can be increased.

Why choose UMC over a hospital for rehab care in New Jersey? 

Older adults who select UMC at Pitman receive 24-hour comprehensive care and supervision, more than they would receive at a hospital. Rehabilitation represents the perfect intersection of healthcare, technology and human connection. Complemented by our environment and professional associates, we can successfully treat those with multiple and complex health conditions.

 Subacute rehab begins with a warm welcome and a thorough evaluation upon arrival. Our care team believes in establishing an immediate connection to ensure each resident is comfortable enough to ask for anything, whether it be further clarification on treatment or extra assistance with a daily task.

From there, our team develops customized care plans, which include establishing the types of therapy, medical treatments, and dietary requirements necessary. We even consider what type of social activities each resident can take part in – because who says rehabilitation has to be boring? (Please note, all UMC communities have COVID-19 measures in place to ensure safe socialization, while also preserving the health and safety of all residents.)

To learn more about comprehensive rehab care at Pitman, or at another one of our full-service senior communities across New Jersey, please contact United Methodist Communities today.

Alzheimer’s Awareness Month: Symptoms, Treatment and Memory Care Programs 

Alzheimer’s Awareness Month is in November and it’s important to shed a light on the best practices in memory care. Effective memory care can significantly improve the quality of life for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Because each person with dementia will experience symptoms differently, it’s essential to adjust the level of care appropriately. Here is United Methodist Communities’ guidance, recommendations and options for dealing with dementia. 

Early detection of dementia 

Early detection is key to slowing the progression of symptoms that come with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Consult your primary care provider if you or a loved one exhibits the following signs on a consistent basis: 

  • Significant memory loss
  • Difficulty performing daily tasks
  • Using their native language incorrectly
  • Confusion with time and place 
  • Poor judgement in decision making 
  • Misplacing objects or placing them in unusual places 
  • Drastic changes in mood, behavior or overall personality
  • Loss of drive, motivation, and ambition

Treatment options for dementia behavioral issues

Potential behavioral issues caused by dementia can take various forms. Some notable examples are wandering off course, aggressive reactions, constant paranoia, or resistance to maintaining good hygiene. Fortunately, there are different options available to treat or minimize these significant behavioral issues.

Vitamin E
One interesting study suggests that taking vitamin E twice a day may slow down the progression of dementia in some people. However, the study is ongoing, and the correct dosage of vitamin E should only be taken under a doctor’s supervision. 

Medication

Talking to a doctor about the option of medication is usually recommended depending on the severity of the behavioral issue. Most likely, your doctor will prescribe anti-agitation drugs. Some examples are antidepressants, neuroleptics, sedatives and sleep medications. 

Communication methods and other adjustments

It’s very important for caregivers and other family members to learn about different methods to communicate with someone with dementia. Simple things like safeguarding the home environment and engaging in therapeutic activities can keep negative behaviors at bay. If these approaches prove to be unsuccessful, it may be best to consider a professional memory care program at a reputable assisted living community. 

 

Individualized memory care at United Methodist Communities 

Our Tapestries® Memory Care  concentrates on the cognitive strengths of each resident. The resident-directed approach adapts to the unique and natural routines of each person. This strategy helps maximize and enrich their quality of life with dementia. Our professional associates also take the time to get to know each resident, as well as their families to ensure Tapestries® is the best viable option for all involved. UMC has been successfully admitting and welcomes new memory care residents during COVID-19. To read more information regarding our industry-leading guidelines in navigating the Coronavirus, click here

If your loved one suffers from early stages of dementia, please contact UMC at Pitman in Gloucester County to find out how we can meet their needs, as well as yours. To learn more about our Tapestries® programs across New Jersey, please contact United Methodist Communities today. 

 

Assisted Living vs. Long Term Care: What’s the Difference? 

It’s normal to not know the difference between assisted living and long term care at first. However, it is important to really take the time to understand both options when considering these services for an older family member.

It will be easier to proceed with the decision to downsize when you can confidently ensure your needs, and the needs of your loved one, will be properly met. If you are based in New Jersey, United Methodist Communities (UMC) has full-service locations across the state that offer both assisted living and long term care options. Here are key differences between assisted living and long term care services for older adults at UMC. 

What is assisted living?

Similar to Independent Living, assisted living residents live in their own apartments for as long as possible with the assistance of highly trained personnel. The services include optional personal and healthcare tailored to each resident’s needs. Assistance with medication management and activities of daily living can be delivered in apartments, promoting maximum independence. At UMC, we are proud to uphold  the customization of services and resident choice. Our associates value forming friendships with every resident, and really like to take the time to get to know each one on a personal level.  

Assisted Living services include (but are not limited to): 

  • Daily housekeeping and maintenance
  • Medication management or assistance
  • Health monitoring 24/7
  • Reminders for all daily living and social activities
  • Personal care: bathing, maintaining personal hygiene, eating, walking, dressing
  • Laundry service and limited transportation 

What is long-term care? 

Also known as Skilled Nursing, it consists of services for residents with complex, chronic and serious health conditions.  Most assisted living residents transition to long-term care for more intensive services coordinated through a professional team of nurses, aides, and therapists. 

Long Term Care services include (but are not limited to): 

  • Health monitoring 24/7 along with nursing care needs for chronic medical conditions, such as stroke, injury, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and other infections or ailments
  • Personal care: bathing, maintaining personal hygiene, eating, walking, or dressing
  • Complete medication management
  • Reminders for all daily living, social activities and therapy sessions 
  • Daily housekeeping and maintenance
  • Laundry service and limited transportation 

Monthly costs for assisted living and long term care vary depending on the community and the types of services you need. Fortunately, Medicare and Medicaid can help cover selected costs associated with long term care if your loved one meets the eligibility requirements. For more information about the cost of assisted living at UMC, click here.

UMC will help determine which option is best for your loved one

At Pitman, our difference revolves around the quality of our nurses and associates, our faith-based mission, and our commitment to an abundant life for all seniors. We offer a variety of services that can put your mind and the minds of your family members at ease. We’re here to offer guidance and support in making this incredibly significant decision for your loved one. 

It’s normal to be  concerned  about admitting a senior family member into assisted living or long term care during COVID-19. Fortunately, many communities have developed strong safety procedures and continue to enforce proper social distancing guidelines in regulation with the CDC. For more information regarding UMC’s industry-leading procedures in navigating COVID-19, please click here.  

Come meet our skilled nurses and associates (socially distanced), to see the differences between assisted living and long term care at United Methodist Communities. Contact UMC at Pitman to schedule a personal tour today. 

4 Questions to Ask Assisted Living Communities During COVID-19

Many assisted living communities have seen that potential residents hesitate to move into a facility in general. Now with COVID-19 in play, this valid concern to move a family member into assisted living is heightened.

With that said, it’s important to acknowledge the extraordinary precautions that organizations like United Methodist Communities have taken to make sure all residents are safe, healthy, and happy during this time.

With proper protocols in place, you don’t have to be afraid to take the leap into assisted living. However, it’s imperative to ask the right questions and do your due diligence before moving in. Here are four important questions to ask prospective assisted living communities when visiting onsite.   

Question #1: Do you have any active COVID-19 cases? 

Answer: Assisted living communities are required to give you an accurate count of all COVID-19 cases. Most communities will have had some COVID-19 cases by now, either among the staff, residents, or both. The key is to look at the progress made since COVID-19 first impacted the site. Look at the community’s safety protocols and determine your comfort level regarding their  ability to prevent future cases.

Question #2: What sanitary protocols are in place for staff and residents?  

Answer: Pretty much everyone in the assisted living industry has figured out that they must take peoples’ temperature, put out more bottles of hand sanitizer, wear masks and social distance. It turns out however, that real COVID-19 safety goes well beyond this. It’s important to look more carefully to understand whether their protocols are consistently obeyed .

For instance, United Methodist Communities has developed what is rapidly becoming an industry-leading standard of infection control and cleanliness for assisted living facilities in New Jersey. The UNITEDforSAFETY standard specifies comprehensive protocols, procedures and equipment standards t related to COVID-19 and other potential health risks.  

Some of the measures developed to maintain health and safety under this new standard are… 

  • Utilizing Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certified products that kill 99.9% of bacteria and sanitizing with UV light equipment
  • Increasing frequency of housekeeping services with attention to common, high-touch areas
  • Utilizing portable negative air pressure machines to filter harmful air particles 
  • Testing and monitoring associates
  • Monitoring residents and screening visitors
  • Mandating hand washing and strategically placing hand sanitizer stations
  • Requiring social distancing and a quarantine period when needed during outbreaks
  • Wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as needed

UMC has made a tremendous investment across their locations in hygienic protocols, equipment and training that will last through COVID-19 and beyond. To learn more about the UNITEDforSAFETY standard, click here

Question #3: What precautions are staff taking when traveling back and forth from each facility?  

Answer: It’s easy enough to follow new safety guidelines while at work, but what happens after an associates’ shift is over? How can you be sure they are taking precautions outside of the workplace? This question is crucial to ask because consistent prevention is key to keeping COVID-19 at bay. 

The bottom line is that it can be difficult for any community to guarantee the COVID-19-safe movements of associates when they are not working. Therefore, a good COVID-19-plan must, to some extent, rely on the dedication of their staff to maintain safe practices outside of the workplace, as well as strict screening of all personnel upon arrival for their shift each day.

As an example, UMC took strict steps to ensure the compliance of all staff members, vendors, and delivery personnel with entry and exit protocols. UMC performs standard temperature checks on all personnel daily.

Question #4: What level of socialization has been restored since COVID-19 hit? 

Answer: A common misconception is that assisted living residents are strictly confined to their own apartments to keep them safe. But what kind of life would that be, and is that really the answer?

It is certainly possible to create an abundant social life for seniors even in the middle of a pandemic. It isn’t easy, but assisted living communities that rise to this challenge will be easy to spot.

Our color-coded phases allow staff to understand what guidelines are in effect and what socialization modes are permitted. Supervised outdoor visitation is now encouraged, as well as other fun initiatives like group zoom calls and theme days like “Root Beer Float Day.” 

Enhanced Safety and Hygiene Measures are Paramount at UMC Pitman

Everyone has a right to be concerned and to be extra diligent during this time. UMC firmly believes with hygienic protocols in place like UNITEDforSAFETY, living in an assisted living community can be safe and fun.

To learn more about assisted living services at UMC Pitman in Gloucester County, or any of our other senior communities across New Jersey, please contact United Methodist Communities and book your visit today. We’re more than happy to answer any further questions regarding health and safety guidelines in the wake of COVID-19.