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How some of Utah’s assisted living centers are connecting families for Thanksgiving

Creekside Assisted Living and Senior Center resident Judy Taylor talks by cellphone to granddaughter Sally Taylor in Bountiful on Friday, March 27, 2020. (PHOTO: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Thanksgiving during a pandemic will look a little different for all of us this year, but that’s especially true for those in assisted living centers, who may not be able to leave or bring loved ones in. Some facilities and families are finding unique ways to connect for the holiday.

At the Ridge Senior Living in Salt Lake, it used to be a revolving door of guests, now families need to reserve individualized suites. They sit distantly separated by plexiglass. 

“They can sit and visit and then we disinfect,” Marketing Director Cindy Fey said. “We have really good ventilation in these spaces where we can completely air it out.

They normally offer about 10 slots a day but for the holiday they’re going to make sure extra slots are available.

“During the holiday we’re doubling those,” Fey said.

“As Covid fatigued as [the families] are, they don’t want to infect anyone either so they’re very, very respectful,” she said.

The Ridge also encourages social media, face time, and zoom visits. They also welcome window visits.

“People are always opening their windows and getting serenaded.” She said.

Thanksgiving week will be loaded with in-house activities at the assisted living center. Families can drop off gifts, and in-person visit from families are scattered throughout the week.

It’s a different story for a Salt Lake County man who wanted to anonymous.

He said his 86-year-old grandma in a Davis County assisted living facility can’t leave her floor, and her room is on the 2nd story which is not ideal for window visits.

“There can be things dropped off if she needs to have things purchased by the family, but she’s really just turned so much more into an introvert. It’s sad, you want to go visit her but she’s kind of lost a lot of hope to have visitors in a lot of ways.” He said. 

The man said his grandma asked them not to come to visit. 

“It’s not really worth it for us.” He said. 

At Covington Assisted Living, which has 3 locations in Utah County and one in Farmington, Founder Mindy Hill said they are trying to safely prioritize in-person visits. 

“Those that come to visit it’s two at a time, 18 and over. They do have to have their temperature taken, answer a questionnaire, and they do have to wear their masks at all times,” Hill said.

And Hill said they’re trying to get creative with what they CAN do.

Among other activities they’ve planned they have invited a local youth group to put door decorations in zip lock bags and drop them off. They’ll have a door decorating contest, take pictures, and have the younger generation connect via phone or video chat.

Hill said there are some things you can do to help those who may be shut-in for the holiday.

“This is definitely a generation where paper mail is still super popular. Really, truly what these folks need more than anything in the whole world is people to listen to them.”


How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronaviruses transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Wear a mask.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A

Utah’s Coronavirus Information

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States


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