2021 is already looking more hopeful than 2020. Despite the realities of the Covid-19 pandemic trudging along, there is hope in the form of better practices, more pandemic experience and effective vaccines. The behaviours of all businesses, organisations and households have evolved to meet today’s requirements for staying safe during the pandemic.

The question has come up frequently over the past year: Are senior living communities or retirement villages safe to occupy during Covid-19? Like most communal, residential environments, senior living communities have adjusted and adapted to the new “normal”. The responsibility falls on owners, managers, caregivers and staff to create a safe and secure environment, in spite of the pandemic.

Temperature checks, sanitisation, social distancing, PPE and, now, vaccinations have become a regular part of retirement living. Having these protocols in place have allowed these communities to keep their residents and staff safe, while managing to maintain the thriving social communities that exist in South Africa.

Most seniors have been forced to miss out on their favourite activities during the national lockdowns. From restaurants to indoor exercise and family visits to local movie theatres, keeping up with your regular life as a senior citizen has been difficult. Fortunately, the careful preparation and learning over the past year has allowed retirement communities to continue some old – and adapted – social activities, safely.

You might be wondering if this is possible. Can now, really, be a good time to move into a senior living community? The reality is that this is a huge decision for you or your loved ones at the best of times. However, there are still a variety of benefits that are associated with living in a retirement village in a post-Covid-19 world.

Here are six of the main advantages of moving into a senior living community now:

All of your necessities are covered

Residents of senior living communities are assisted in all of their day-to-day activities, like cooking, cleaning, bathing, taking medication and shopping. There are a multitude of daily tasks that become harder to complete as we age – and even harder during a pandemic. All of the caregivers that assist in these tasks are tested, trained and advised on how to keep all residents and themselves safe during the pandemic.

Most retirement villages have transformed the way they cater to and serve their communities to ensure that all residents’ necessities and needs are covered, while keeping Covid-19 out. These communities will continue to evolve, in order to guarantee all of their residents are kept safe and well-cared for. Shopping, exercising, socialising, organising meals and housekeeping are all made easier in a senior living community, in spite of the pandemic.

Easy access to onsite healthcare services

Most senior living communities are equipped to offer assisted living and frail care options on their premises. This is in addition to the nurses, caregivers and staff that are trained to provide daily assistance to our senior population who are suffering from mental or physical decline. Some retirement villages have an onsite clinic which can perform emergency procedures, provide constant care and conduct necessary testing when needed.

These clinics will often include a dispensary and speciality services, like physical therapy or mental health services. Easily accessible and fully-integrated, these healthcare services are onsite to ensure that all residents are being taken care of and living their healthiest possible life. All of this helps to reduce the health risks associated with aging and adds an extra layer of protection and reassurance during the pandemic.

Strict health and safety protocols

In every retirement village, members of staff are being trained to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and residents to follow best practices. Beyond this, all common areas, like hallways, dining rooms, elevators, lobbies, etc., are being heavily sanitised and cleaned every day. Screenings and tests are being conducted to ensure all staff and guests do not exhibit symptoms and can safely interact within the community. Additional steps, such as contact tracing and mandatory mask wearing have become standard health and safety protocols.

Easy access to COVID-19 testing and vaccines

Phase 2 of South Africa’s vaccine rollout plan will include residents in congregated living environments and persons over the age of 60. This means that the vast majority, if not all, residents living in senior living communities will be eligible for a vaccine. Even further, these residents may have access to testing at their onsite clinic or government-funded testing, or be enrolled in a vaccination programme, without the hassle of confusing websites and online booking systems. Frequent testing and high vaccination rates are the fastest way to building a safe, Covid-free community.

Socialise more safely and confidently

Senior living communities have adopted some of the safest ways of socialising within their community. Communal practices, such as small group gatherings, outdoor activities, scheduled dining experiences and socially-distanced exercise classes, allow residents to carefully and confidently socialise with their community. This is on top of the strong public health practices and behaviours that are already being employed, like frequent sanitisation and testing.

Ensure financial stability

The financial security and stability that comes with living in a retirement village – during these times – can’t be overstated. Community members don’t have to worry about the maintenance, upkeep and sale-value of a home amidst the pandemic. Managing expenses, preserving your lifestyle and securing needed care or assistance in these communities is also easier than ever. Becoming a part of these vibrant communities is not only beneficial during the pandemic, but at any point that you or a loved one need a little extra help and support in their daily life.

If you’re looking to move into a senior living community, make sure you’re choosing the best one for you or your family member. Manor Retirement offer a wide range of independent and assisted living options with the best healthcare services and well-trained caregivers to support you.