'Residents are missing their families': Senior care businesses work to protect physical, mental well-being of clients during social isolation

Senior care businesses in Richardson are working to ensure the physical, mental well-being of clients during social isolation. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Senior care businesses in Richardson are working to ensure the physical, mental well-being of clients during social isolation. (Courtesy Fotolia)

Senior care businesses in Richardson are working to ensure the physical, mental well-being of clients during social isolation. (Courtesy Fotolia)

Senior care businesses in Richardson are adjusting practices to ensure residents stay healthy during the coronavirus crisis.

Richardson City Council ratified a shelter-in-place order March 23 that is set to last through at least through April 30. The order generally bars all public or private gatherings, which means many seniors have limited contact with family and are unable to leave their homes.

This level of isolation can be detrimental to a senior’s emotional well-being, according to Lisa Fletcher, personal care director at Appletree Court.

“[Interaction with others helps to] decrease depression, which can set in really quickly with the elderly,” Fletcher said.

Seniors in isolation are at-risk of experiencing boredom and feelings of helplessness, said Ben Isaac, owner of Home Care Assistance, a Richardson-based in-home care service.


“It’s very difficult for them right now, especially if they live alone,” Isaac said.

Home Care Assistance has lost about 30% of its clients due to coronavirus concerns, Isaac said.

“Some of my clients have canceled [at-home care] services because of what they are hearing [on the news],” Isaac said. “We are encouraging them to [cancel services] if they feel more safe that way,”

Fletcher said residents are concerned with how long the pandemic might last.

“They want to know ‘how long are we going to be doing this?’” Fletcher said.

Both Appletree Court and Home Care Assistance have temporarily discontinued certain enrichment activities, such as theater performances and large-group movie nights.

Instead, Isaac said his staff is keeping clients engaged through at-home activities, such as doing puzzles, making photo albums or watching their favorite TV show.

“If they like a popular show, we make it an event so the [caregiver and client] can watch together,” Isaac said.

Fletcher said Appletree Court has canceled all large social gatherings but is still offering small group activities that are conducive to social distancing. Additionally, staff members are visiting residents’ rooms at least six times per day.

Families are video chatting with seniors who live in the facility, Fletcher said. Some are also visiting with residents through the back porch, which has a barrier between the senior and the family member, she said.

“We have a pretty close-knit community here whose families come in quite frequently, some on a daily basis,” Fletcher said. “Those residents are missing their families.”

Staff at Home Care Assistance is checking on the emotional and physical health of their clients through daily phone calls, Isaac said. They are also wearing gloves in every client’s home and providing masks to clients who request them.

Isaac said some of his caregivers have stopped working due to concerns about the virus, but he has been able to hire replacements. Isaac said he is willing to rehire those caregivers once the crisis is over.

“Once everything is done, the doors are open, and they are welcome to come back,” Isaac said.