A Message from the President & CEO
Hindsight is 2020 Vision…
I haven’t met anyone yet who wasn’t thrilled to see the end of 2020. But, while 2020 has taken so much energy out of us, and sadly, so many friends and family from us, it has also given us one thing… a “2020 Vision” as we march forward into 2021. We’ve learned a lot over the past year and we intend to take those lessons with us into 2021. Here are four of the most important lessons we learned from our experiences with COVID-19:
Lesson #1: Courage and bravery have everything to do with how an organization like ours survives a pandemic! Every day that I walk into my Morningstar Living office, I’m reminded of how the staff at Morningstar Living have given new meaning to the word “heroes”! Prior to COVID-19, when you joined a health care organization you didn’t necessarily worry about your own health and safety. And yet over the past year, our team members have had to put their health and safety at risk every day… and not only our direct caregivers, but every team member who provides services for residents who live at Moravian Hall Square or Heritage Village or who serve the clients of Senior Solutions Home Care. If this pandemic has taught me one thing about our team members, it’s that they are courageous and brave. Many of us were fearful and many still are, but our team members show up and are fearless in their commitment, service, and dedication. Heroes. Ordinary citizens, who do extraordinary things to help others.
Lesson #2: Safety precautions work! It’s far too easy for people to be exposed to and infected with the COVID-19 virus because it’s so highly contagious. But the simple practices of wearing masks, washing hands, physically distancing from others, and regularly disinfecting hard surfaces frequently EASILY and DEFINITELY reduces the spread of the virus. If we mandate these practices in all of our workplaces, we will prevent the spread of the virus.
Lesson #3: There is still so much we don’t know about this virus! News feeds, regulatory directives, and guidance from scientists and health care experts changes daily. In February of 2019, we heard: “The general public shouldn’t wear masks because they need to be saved for medical professionals and health care workers.” By early spring, we heard: “Do wear masks – and almost any kind of mask will do.” Lately now, I’m hearing: “Wear two masks if you can to better filter the air you are breathing in!” This whirlwind pandemic year hasn’t given us the luxury of waiting for all theories to be tested, validated, and proven. We’ve had to act on our own instincts, common sense, and the best information and experts we could find because, frankly, people’s lives depended on it. In many ways we are all still being asked to “build the plane while we’re flying it” through these uncharted pandemic times. And we will persevere through this until it’s finally behind us.
Lesson #4: Social isolation is devastating for people who do not live within a system that’s designed to address it. Because of all the stresses, fears, sickness, and yes, the loss of precious lives during 2020, we’ve learned a few things the hard way. As a result, we’re able to see things more clearly. One thing that has become crystal clear is the insidious and devastating impact of social isolation for people of all age groups, but particularly for our elders. I can’t even imagine how seniors living alone at home have been impacted by the loneliness, fear and forced social isolation that COVID-19 has brought.
The lifestyle choices that we make can sometimes be hazardous to our health. Health risks associated with loneliness and social isolation can be as lethal as smoking a pack of cigarettes each day. And as we know, loneliness not only affects our mental health, but also our physical well-being. Depression, anxiety and cognitive decline are some of the mental health effects; and cardiovascular impairment, chronic pain, and fatigue are just a few of the physical effects.
At Morningstar Living we know many residents move to our communities specifically because they have grown weary with the chores of taking care of homes and property, and they seek a more relaxed and supported lifestyle. Many also desire to avoid the negative effects of isolation and loneliness, especially after the loss of a spouse, partner, or a very close friend. Making social connections with new friends, engaging in social and physical “exercise” with others in safe and healthy community environments can make an amazing difference in the lives of both active older adults as well as in the lives of more frail elders who may need personal care or nursing care, temporarily or permanently.
It’s a simple fact that most of us do need and thrive when we have positive interaction with other people. And while it is not possible for everyone to move to a senior living, life plan community that provides these benefits, it’s so important that we find and prioritize other ways we can help people who still live at home from becoming lonely and isolated from others.
COVID-19 felt like an earthquake that sent tremors throughout the health care and hospitality industries. It forced all of us to change, innovate and evolve at lightning speed. And in my mind, it provided Morningstar Living with an even bigger mission and purpose…to spread our influence in many positive ways to prevent loneliness and isolation among seniors living alone at home throughout our region. I invite you to join our crusade to combat loneliness and isolation for seniors living throughout Lehigh Valley, PA!
“Making a difference…by enriching life’s journey for all we serve.”