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A man standing beside a bicycle, wearing personal protective equipment, waves at a woman wearing personal protective equipment standing by her open door.

Finding a new “normal”

Adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic
By Dr. Rhonda Collins
Revera was the first company in the Canadian senior living sector to appoint a Chief Medical Officer. In her blog series, Dr. Rhonda Collins offers helpful advice for seniors to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.

As governments and health authorities begin to ease the restrictions imposed because of COVID-19, it’s important to reiterate that we are by no means out of the woods with this pandemic. Recent images of people gathering and ignoring physical distancing practices greatly concern me, especially because our residents and employees have been the ones on the frontline of this pandemic and have felt its impact most severely.
“This virus has forced us to change the way we do things, but there are still many opportunities to celebrate, and we should.”
The lifting of some restrictions doesn’t mean we can go from the lockdown to how it was before the pandemic. We cannot go back to “normal.” This pandemic has and will continue to force us to adapt and create a new sense of normalcy – at least for the near future. Everything has changed because of COVID-19.

Believe me, I’m just as eager as anyone else to be able to go out and see friends and family, get some sunshine, visit my favourite restaurant, and go on that vacation abroad I’ve been dreaming about. But that’s just not responsible right now. The world needs to get COVID-19 under control and until we do, we can’t let our guard down. The stakes are too high.

I’ve heard from residents’ families who are deeply concerned about the well-being of their loved ones. The teams at our retirement residences and long term care homes have been working hard to adapt in the face of this virus to ensure our residents remain active, engaged and most importantly optimistic.

Keeping fit, eating well, stimulating your brain, getting a good night’s sleep and staying socially connected are just five important tips for staying healthy as we age. Making healthy decisions is important at any stage in our life and even more important when our lives have been turned upside down, like with this pandemic.

Our recreation teams have been amazing at adapting their programs to continue to offer our holistic approach to wellness that focuses on one’s physical, social, intellectual, emotional and spiritual health, as well as community engagement. Where group activities were the normal practice before the pandemic, our sites have worked to individualize the programs to maintain physical distance, but also find ways to maintain interactions in a safe way – either through one-on-one activities or hallway workouts in front of residents’ rooms in some cases.

This pandemic has also emphasized the importance of emotional and mental wellness as we have been forced to distance ourselves from those we love. Many of us thrive on social interactions, which cannot take place because of COVID-19. Technology has helped in this regard, as video chats have made it possible for us to connect with loved ones and see their faces. Our sites have also done a terrific job at facilitating window visits between families so they can see each other. Also, I’ve been deeply moved to see so many celebrations continue to take place to recognize birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and other special moments. This virus has forced us to change the way we do things, but there are still many opportunities to celebrate, and we should.

As long as COVID-19 continues to spread and we do not have a viable vaccine available, we need to adjust to find a new sense of normalcy. We all must be responsible and respectful of each other and take all required precautions to protect those who are vulnerable to this virus in our society. Like I said before, the easing of restrictions should not be interpreted to mean we don’t need to worry about COVID-19. The virus is still very much a risk and we can’t rest on the progress we’ve made to date.

So please, be smart, be safe, wash your hands, and don’t rush to get back to “normal.”
Dr. Rhonda Collins, Chief Medical Officer of Revera
By Dr. Rhonda Collins
Dr. Rhonda Collins brings passion and expertise in memory care, dementia, falls prevention and clinical quality improvement to the role of Revera’s Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Collins is a family physician with a certificate of added competence in Care of the Elderly from the College of Family Physicians of Canada.