While the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has presented challenges for nearly all segments of the population, perhaps no group has faced greater struggles than those residing at assisted living homes.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warns that those 85 years-old and up face "the greatest risk for severe illness" from COVID-19, with eight out of 10 COVID-19 deaths having been from adults 65 and up. Given that the average age of an assisted living home resident is 87, assisted living homes have had no choice but to tighten restrictions severely.
The Lantern at Morning Pointe, a Spring Hill assisted living home that specializes in memory care, has been no stranger to these challenges.
Operating in accordance to CDC guidelines, visitation from family members has been extremely limited, with family members only allowed to visit residents in an isolation booth: a quarantined area where a resident and their family are separated by a transparent sheet of plexiglass.
On Wednesday, however, The Lantern took its first step to 'knocking out COVID-19' after nearly all residents were vaccinated during a Rocky-themed vaccination clinic.
"We had three clinics provided by CVS and we were hoping to get as many of our residents and associates vaccinated as possible," said Kristin Rosario, executive director for The Lantern at Morning Pointe. "CVS came out to our property and has a well-oiled machine to take care of that vaccine, so we got it done."
Rosario said that around 98% of all residents were vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine, and that the enthusiasm she witnessed on the part of the residents was the first step in getting "back into some form of normalcy."
"They were very enthusiastic and excited, which is really wonderful to see, particularly when you are working with memory care residents because they don't necessarily communicate the same way that you might expect someone who isn't challenged cognitively," Rosario said.
"You could see that they were excited about it. They know what quarantine is and they don't like that, and so knowing that if we can keep this COVID thing out of our building, it will be a much more pleasant place to be."
To add some fanfare to the occasion, The Lantern staff themed the vaccination clinic around the 1976 sports drama Rocky, with residents wearing red, white and blue, listening to the Rocky theme song, wearing boxing gloves and making homemade rocky road ice cream.
When asked what Spring Hill residents who want to spread some joy to the residents of The Lantern at Morning Pointe could do to help, Rosario suggested "getting creative;" decorating windows, decorating sidewalks, making balloon sculptures and a favorite of The Lantern residents, hand-written notes.
"I think it's lovely to offer to send notes, handwritten notes - our residents tend to be of a generation that love that, so those are very welcomed," Rosario said.