FLORHAM PARK, NJ — In an effort to enhance its efforts help ease social isolation within New Jersey’s assisted Livingston and long-term care (LTC) facilities during the pandemic, the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater New Jersey (AAGNJ) recently conducted a volunteer initiative within the organization that sent more than 700 holiday cards to the senior residents of these facilities over the holidays.
The program was spearheaded by AANGJ Special Events Coordinator Danielle Buckler, who came up with the idea shortly after New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill that directly addresses social isolation within LTC settings across the state by requiring such facilities to implement policies to prevent further strain on residents and their families.
“I came to the Alzheimer's Association after years in the LTC industry, working with those with Alzheimer's and dementia,” said Buckler. “During my time in LTC, I saw first-hand how the disease affects not only the person living with the disease, but also their family members. During that time, I also began spearheading the fundraising efforts of our LTC community for the Alzheimer's Association, which is what drew me to want to work for the association.
“Having worked with those living with dementia, I know how important social interaction is to their everyday life; and during the COVID-19 crisis, there has been an absence of that social interaction. The holiday card initiative was born from this idea, and from the desire to take our legislative efforts around social isolation and do some of the work ourselves. It is our hope that these cards helped to spread a little holiday cheer at a time when cheer may be harder to come by.”
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, approximately 48 percent of nursing home residents and 42 percent of assisted-living residents live with Alzheimer’s or other dementia. As social and mental stimulation are among the few tools that can slow the march of dementia, legislation such as the recently adopted bill can ensure that residents in these communities are protected, engaged and connected with their loved ones.
As a condition of licensure, all New Jersey-based LTC facilities are now required to create social isolation prevention policies to authorize residents to engage in in-person contact, communications and religious and recreational activities with other facility residents as well as family members, friends and other external support systems (except when prohibited, restricted or limited).
It further requires policies to consider means to promote virtual visitation and resident recreational activities during periods where in-person engagement is limited/prohibited and requires facilities to maintain the appropriate technology to implement that mandate.
To learn more about this new bill and ways to help the AAGNJ work toward its vision of a world without Alzheimer’s, click on the headlines below: