- The Vaccine
For most of 2020, the coronavirus rendered senior communities some of the most dangerous places to be. The statistics are simply heartbreaking. Yet, with residents in senior living second only to frontline healthcare employees in line for the vaccine against COVID-19 (with some already having received it), senior communities will soon be among the most low-risk environments. According to Senior Living Foresight publisher Steve Moran, “By the end of January, senior living will likely be the safest place to live on the planet.” What’s more, the CDC and FDA will provide continuous vaccine safety monitoring and education for residents and their families.
- Groundbreaking Science
The science behind the COVID-19 vaccine is not only groundbreaking, it came with breathtaking speed. Even before the pandemic reached global proportions, drug manufacturers achieved unprecedented large-scale success in clinical trials. The Medical Futurist posits, “Who would have thought that the genome of a virus could be sequenced within 24 hours? Not a single person would have bet on it before 2020.” Such effective, rapid epidemiologic response promises to continue in the future.
- Hindsight and Foresight
What we’ve experienced in 2020 has informed – and transformed – us forever, particularly professionals in care settings. They’ve risen above anyone’s wildest imaginings in creativity, adaptability and, yes, genuine heroism. 20/20 hindsight affords crystal clear foresight into what needs to be done in 2021:
- The positive stories coming out of senior living need to be shared.
- Staff in senior living need to feel valued and appreciated with formal incentives and recognition tactics.
- Lingering negative impressions of senior living, reluctance to move in, and drop in census need to be mitigated with trained crisis communications.
- Fresh Starts
For most of us, 2020 couldn’t get off the calendar fast enough. Even for those disinclined to anticipate changes, expectations for 2021 are uniquely high. For older adults, a new year brings the potential for an enriching new life in senior living, especially as residents in senior communities are among the first to receive the COVID vaccine. Now is the time to “seize the day” and let prospects know all senior living has to offer, including renewed safety and security.
- Warmer Weather and Longer Days
Even before the short days and cold temperatures set in, people were dreading the onset of winter during a pandemic. But, as December 21 marked the longest night of the year, we are (albeit slowly) on the way to increased sunshine and balmier climes. Daylight savings time begins on March 14, when we will move the clock forward. Just a few days after that, spring will arrive, followed by sprouting bulbs, chirping birds and uplifted spirits.
- Prioritized Healthcare
Accompanying the nearly superhuman efforts of frontline workers during the pandemic were advances in healthcare that might otherwise have taken years to arrive. Telehealth technology has allowed patients to safely consult with medical professionals and receive necessary medications. Complex systems such as A.I. and network science have greatly increased applications in the healthcare realm. Governments have prioritized healthcare, and thousands upon thousands of important health studies have emerged. These encouraging trends stand to continue in 2021 and beyond.
Hope is as essential to human life as the air we breathe. Said Dr. Judith Rich, “Hope is a match in a dark tunnel, a moment of light, just enough to reveal the path ahead and ultimately the way out.” Given what we’ve been through in 2020, there are likely very few of us with little or no hope for 2021. It’s what keeps us going, what allows us to dream of the “agains” – the good kind, like gathering with friends again, hugging our grandchildren again, dining in our favorite restaurants again.
Hope’s counterpart is faith. If ever there was a year to build faith in humanity, it was 2020. In spite of all the political vitriol and social injustice, random acts of kindness sprang up in every corner of the earth – among family, friends, neighbors, and total strangers. The indescribable grit, compassion, courage, heart, and dedication demonstrated by the countless people inclined to care for others is truly awe-inspiring. As fellow human beings, we are capable of magic – even in the worst of times. And that is perhaps the best thing of all going into 2021.
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