Assisted living center prioritizing mental health during Omicron surge

Local News

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Local nursing homes brace for a surge in Omicron cases. Families of residents fear how the mental health of their loved ones might be affected.

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only affected people’s physical health.

“Julie can be very bubbly and jubilant and happy,” said Cathy Kimbel.

The pandemic has also taken a toll on mental health.

“But being in this situation has changed her. She has some issues with depression,” Kimbel said.

Cathy Kimbel’s sister, Julia, lives in a Gonzales nursing home.

“Being in a nursing home where you are so restricted, where there is no in-and-out — it’s certainly a hard life to live,” she said.

The National Council on Aging reports social isolation has dramatically increased loneliness in the elderly population.

Magnolia Brook Executive Director Mike Champagne said the pandemic has taught his team to prioritize mental health with regular activities.

“It helps pick up their spirit, it gives a purpose to what they’re doing every day. I think that is often lost, unfortunately, during the Covid restrictions,” said Champagne.

Magnolia Brook living center is now preparing for what may come with the Omicron surge.

“We check for temperature of course. For our residents, we do take it one step further, we do check for temperature and oxygen levels,” said Champagne.

Champagne said his staff is also required to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I think now that we have progressed two years into it, there is a better level of understanding. There is some fatigue to be quite frank with you, but that does not mean we waiver on our protocols to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our loved one,” he said.

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