Virtual events break up the mundane for older residents during isolation
FARGO — With social distancing orders still in effect for the area, there isn't much activity happening for housebound individuals.
Or is there?
Through the power of technology, Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota has teamed up with area residents to provide entertainment to older adults.
"I was inspired after watching the news and seeing a violinist play outside of a senior living facility, and I figured we could provide some entertainment to our older adults virtually as well," said LSSMN regional coordinator Laura Rasmussen. "We first started off with having Kelsey Joy, the violinist I had seen on the news, play for us online."
Older adults were able to join this performance using their own technology, all from the comfort of their homes. It's all part of the Caregiver Support Program, which works to provide support to in-home caregivers of older adults or those with a form of memory loss.
"We provide coaching, consultation, support groups, emergency care planning, a technology program, in-home respite and group respite care," Rasmussen said. "All of these are now being provided virtually for the time being. When we are able to provide support and/or a break for a caregiver, the goal is that they will be able to provide care in home for longer, it will maintain their health and well being and that they will, in turn, be providing better care for their family members."
These events have given viewers a virtual front-row seat to violin and piano concerts, brought them to a farm outside of Park Rapids, Minn., and even given them a peek at some vintage cars.
"We've had people we serve state 'oh, it was beautiful,' said a caregiver who watched a virtual performance," Rasmussen said.
Other comments by viewers referenced how much their spirits were lifted with watching the performances, as well as brought a bit of nostalgia back when visiting the farm.
"While providing some joy, even once a week for our older adults (caregivers especially), we are hopefully providing them with some time to get their mind off everything going on in the world," she said. "We cannot provide any in-home support at this time, and we hope that these events are providing them with a "break from the stress and worry. Our program had a technology program before COVID-19 that provides iPads to qualifying caregivers across our service area, and I feel that this program, in a way, prepared us for providing support virtually."
The team is always looking for new ideas and talents to provide virtual entertainment. To get involved, reach out to the caregiver program by calling 1-866-787-9802 or by contacting Rasmussen at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 218-220-7517.