Woman with dog

The vast majority of senior living residents agree with COVID-19 social distancing and visitation restrictions, even if they find them a little annoying. At least that’s what Buckner Retirement Services found when it surveyed its residents; 96% of respondents said they approved of the measures.

Buckner, No. 55 overall on the 2019 LeadingAge Ziegler 200 list of largest U.S. not-for-profit senior living organizations, surveyed 140 senior adults living in its six Texas senior living communities to learn more about how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting residents — from how they spend their time to how they stay connected with family and friends.

Residents from Buckner Villas in Austin, Parkway Place in Houston, Ventana by Buckner in Dallas, Calder Woods in Beaumont, Westminster Place in Longview and Baptist Retirement Community in San Angelo participated in the survey. The faith-based non-profit organization offers independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing. 

When it comes to how they spend their free time, residents reported they are reading (74%), talking with family members by phone (63%) and napping (29%).

More than 75% listed family visits as something they miss most, followed by attending church (56%) and group dining (54%). They are staying connected to family and friends for anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes a day in a variety of ways, including through phone calls (99%), texting (57%), email (46%), video calls (43%), social media (21%) and letters (21%). 

And they are getting the hang of technology. Fifty-five percent admitted they never used video chatting technology prior to shelter-in-place orders, but 52% said they plan to continue using the technology beyond the pandemic.

Participants were not shy about listing what they consider to be inconveniences brought on by the pandemic, including visitation restrictions (73%), mask requirements (55%) and a lack of group activities (54%). 

They also said they are most thankful for calls with family (69%), their health (64%) and the senior living staff members (54%) caring for them each day. Only 9% said they were thankful for toilet paper. 

Like many other communities, Buckner senior living communities have had visitation restrictions in place since March 13, as well as employee screening procedures. According to Buckner’s website, it has only one confirmed COVID-19 case — a third-party essential care provider — and one employee test pending at its Calder Woods property.