Senior Living Communities Carry On

"Glenaire offers three levels of care: independent living assisted living and nursing. The parade was one of four that we held as a way that family members could safely see their loved one in the nursing area," says Glenaire Executive Director Paul Gregg.

In response to the coronavirus, senior living communities in Western Wake are doing their best to keep their residents entertained, healthy and informed.

Meals in the dining rooms, and entertainment such as club meetings and performances have changed in efforts to keep residents and employees safe. Even family visits and seasonal treats are being enjoyed in different ways.


At Searstone all activities are taking place online. Residents of the Cary retirement community are staying active through Zoom fitness classes, including yoga and aerobics. Taking fitness to the next level, some residents are participating in a walking marathon, competing to see who can walk a marathon over three weeks.

Although residents have limited interaction with each other, they have found creative ways to keep in touch. Allie Ligay of Cary, the Searstone sales and marketing director, says one resident hosts Zoom calls to share photographs and memories of his past travels. Resident-run clubs and committees are also operating online.

“They’ve really embraced that technology knowing that that’s going to be the way — for now — that they’re going to get their social interaction,” Ligay said.

Staff deliver May Day bouquets to residents at Searstone.

Searstone has replaced the typical monthly birthday celebration with cupcake delivery to residents. Staff also deliver small treats to brighten spirits as part of a weekly snack pack.

“We’ve been trying to do something every week for residents delivered right to their doors just for some social interaction and a pick-me-up,” Ligay said.

Phillips Farms in Cary donated strawberries to Searstone, allowing residents to enjoy the seasonal berry in the comfort of their own space. Other door deliveries include the May Day flower bouquets and Hershey Kisses as a virtual hug from the staff.


Virtual happy hour at Waltonwood

Executive Director Brian O’Hara says the shift to in-room dining was the biggest adjustment for residents of Cary’s Waltonwood.

“Of course the residents miss interaction during this time, and they definitely look forward to getting back together and socializing in large groups,” he said.

Residents are making up for the absence of community gatherings and events this by putting their talents to use. Some play the piano or the violin, and one Waltonwood resident is a former opera singer, who loves to sing for residents and staff.

“We have very talented residents that perform from the courtyard balconies, and that’s been great,” O’Hara said.

Residents can also stay in touch through video chats with loved ones, using iPads provided to speak with friends and family.


The spirit of friendliness lives on at the Cary continuing care retirement community, says Glenaire Executive Director Paul Gregg of Cary.

“We are accepting that life is very different for us right now,” he said.

In order to keep residents informed, Gregg hosts virtual town meetings to answer any questions.

Although visitors are not allowed inside at the moment, Glenaire invites friends and family to see loved ones through window visits. Staff also arranged several parades in the parking lot, so residents could wave to passing family and friends as they drove past.

“They went over the top with decorations for their car — signs and expressions of love,” said Gregg. “The residents really enjoyed it, and the staff had a great time as well.”

Friends and family parade past residents at Glenaire.

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