Safe and Healthy, Together
Nichols Village and the Value of Community Life During the Pandemic
Last year we learned the most unthinkable can happen as the pandemic of 2020 unwittingly crept its way into the fabric of our lives, our communities and the world. Once unimagined, now a reality, COVID’s wrath continues to place overwhelming stress on our physical, emotional and social well-being.
A COVID-induced practice, physical distancing has been a significant barrier to staying socially connected. As a result, social isolation has become a challenge especially for those who have a limited social network or who live alone. Studies show unchecked social isolation can lead to increased anxiety and depression, and lowered immunity. Maintaining social connections, along with the basics of eating nutritious foods and incorporating exercise into our lives are core determinants in preventing physical and mental discord and in warding off disease-related viruses like COVID-19.
One community that has taken a proactive lead in the direction of its sustainability during the pandemic is Nichols Village, an independent living community in Groveland where active adults at least 62 years of age have chosen to make their home. During this pandemic, Nichols Village has been consistent in implementing protocols and strategies to keep the members of its community as safe, healthy and socially connected as possible.
Unwavering in its response to the pandemic, Nichols Village administration and front-line staff are unified in the implementation of protocols aligned with the health and safety guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the state of Massachusetts. Nichols Village adheres to stringent COVID protocols and procedures including diligence in the practices of wearing masks and physical distancing.
The community’s management receives ongoing COVID updates and supports from Leading Age, a professional organization with a trusted voice in aging among all Americans. Since opening in 2004, Nichols Village has been a member of Leading Age. Both nonprofit organizations share the goal of providing safe and healthy communities for the aging population.
To stay connected with residents and mitigate COVID related stress, Nichols Village management and staff are vigilant in providing residents with communications including physically distanced meetings, telephone calls, emails, online platforms, hand-delivered letters and monthly newsletters. Staff encourages residents to bring their concerns to the management team and to request any needed supports.
Residents stay as socially connected as possible by engaging in programs featuring speaker presentations, musical performances and various interest groups. To maintain physical and mental fitness, residents join activities like yoga, meditation and strength training classes and use amenities like the on-site gym and indoor heated pool. Residents take the opportunity to use these programs and amenities both in person (when possible) and online via Zoom. This ease of onsite access allows residents the choice to stay within their community rather than venturing out to public venues.
Nichols Village staff assures that all residents receive the necessities required to stay safe and comfortable in their community and in their own apartments and cottages. One example of this is found among the members of the community’s culinary team. They know “it’s all about food” and are committed to serving delicious and nutritious meal options. Though the community’s tavern has remained closed since the beginning of the pandemic, its restaurant has remained opened on a more limited and variable basis. Director of Dining Jim Dinges has been serving the community’s residents for 16 years. He says, “During the pandemic, residents are reassured knowing they have regular access to delivered meals and basic staples and are relieved they don’t have to be over-reliant on family, friends or themselves to buy and prepare food.”
Brenda Burkholder, the community’s marketing director for over 13 years, has been assisting prospective residents in their process of choosing a community lifestyle that is best for them. Especially since the pandemic’s onset, Brenda has witnessed an increase in residents expressing how safe they feel in their Nichols Village community and how comforted they are to know their neighbors are close by. Brenda comments, “Residents frequently talk about how grateful they are for choosing a community lifestyle rather than living by themselves, alone in their single-family homes.”
It is important to reflect on how the lifestyle you choose influences the quality of life you live. When the next life-changing event occurs where do you envision yourself living and what does that lifestyle look like? Though you have little control over how the pandemic pans out, you do have control and the freedom to choose the lifestyle that is best for you.