VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - It’s National Assisted Living Week and this year’s theme honors essential caregivers.
They’ve played a role on the frontline, battling COVID-19 while caring for those in assisted living communities.
To kick off the week Monday morning, Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson presented a proclamation at the Canopy at Azalea Grove.
“And urge all citizens to join me in celebrating our elders and raising awareness for the great work in assisted living communities,” said Matheson.
Assisted living communities were one of the hardest-hit industries and continue to be during the pandemic.
Matheson said it was a good time for them to be recognized.
“Who else is going to be out there doing this? You know, a lot of people are afraid, so it’s very important that we are here for our residents,” said Sharon Moser, a certified nursing assistant.
Moser said this year, her role as a caregiver has been especially important. With residents not being able to see their families, staff has become the family.
“It’s been very important, their family members can’t come in and see them so we are initially their family now until they can see their family again. So they are with us one-on-one every day,” said Moser.
Moser said it’s also been very challenging.
“Lately, it’s just been more trying to speak to people who already have a hard time hearing and understanding, they like to read lips as well, and it’s difficult to get through so you have to say over and over because they can’t understand you under this,” said Moser.
Kristen Smith, a licensed practical nurse, said it’s been a little hectic with communication struggles and residents tend to get agitated.
“It’s heartbreaking. Every day you can see the sadness, you can see the anger, sometimes they take it out on us. I don’t know how they do it and I hope it does end, I hope they are able to hug their families,” said Smith.
For now, families are allowed to visit but can only see the resident through a barrier. They can see each other but not touch.
The caregivers said they try to support their residents as best as they can, help keep them busy and entertained with fun activities during these difficult times.