Does your staff notice any residents feeling lonely in your community?

There are no reasons to be lonely when you live in an Independent or Assisted Living community. Yet many residents have become lonely despite being closely surrounded by others in their age range and various life-enrichment activities to appeal to their interests. Losing friends and family during the recent pandemic has impacted many, allowing a feeling of isolation to settle in. It is difficult to overcome that feeling for some, even though an extended sense of loneliness can cause a higher stress hormone cortisol, depression, and social anxiety. When food servers notice an elder showing signs of loneliness, they may mention in conversation how becoming a volunteer for a community event is a great way to meet new friends without the awkwardness of stepping into a circle of strangers. Just increasing their social activities is a step toward decreasing isolated feelings. Getting to know their neighbors will boost their morale.

Living a stress-free lifestyle is offered in senior care communities to encourage healthy living and wellness by providing social opportunities. It also allows residents to stay independent in a safe, friendly environment. Some residents need a little nudge from a familiar staff member whose advice they respect. Staying active lessens loneliness and the risk of Alzheimer’s and increases happy contentment. It’s easier to start a conversation while strolling onsite pathways around the community, sitting next to someone at an outdoor concert, or saying ‘hello’ to a dog walker.  Let it be known that friendships formed become chosen families.

The dining room or café is the most popular spot for social engagements. Mealtimes are much more than only eating good food. It’s a social experience that provides an easy opportunity to introduce oneself to new people. Making connections can be assisted by caring, helpful food servers. They can sometimes guide a fresh resident to a group that welcomes newcomers. It’s great to plan a day over coffee in the morning and share the resulting experience over dinner that evening.

More attention is now being paid to the loneliness residents are experiencing in the aftermath of the coronavirus. Kind Dining® has been aware of the situation and designed a training curriculum to teach your staff how to respond and improve life with skill and caring. We have created this curriculum for the culture of belonging, with ongoing, continual learning through training for your staff, from which they also benefit.  It gives them an incentive to stay with your company because they get to work at an organization that places value on them. They achieve the true quality of life for residents, quality of work for staff, and quality of success for the Senior Living Marketplace. Complete success lies in intentionally focusing on the older generation led by kind dining and civility.

Be ♥ Kind Tip: Excellent training and practice eradicate ignorance in your staff.

About Cindy Heilman

Cindy is the founder and owner of Kind Dining®, which she began in 2006. She’s traveled across the country and Canada working with and training senior living communities that want to create an exceptional dining experience for their residents and staff. In addition, she certifies select professionals in her Kind Dining® philosophy and provides tools, now in an eLearning format, that make learning stick and help people put insights into action. As a result of her work, clients often share their staff has a new sense of purpose, get along better and keep their focus and energy on what matters most. In fact, she wrote a book, Hospitality for Boomers on how to attract residents and keep good team members. In her free time, she enjoys walking Oregon trails and cheering on her favorite soccer teams, the Portland Thorns and Timbers.

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