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'A Lot Of The Interaction Is Now Happening Through The Technology': As Coronavirus Keeps Families Separated, Grandparenting Goes Digital

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Some senior citizens may be having an especially tough time right now.

For those in assisted or independent living, so much has changed: no visitors dropping by, no communal dining and no gathering to play cards or bingo.

But there is a concerted effort at some facilities to keep residents connected.

KDKA's Ken Rice spoke with Nick Vizzoca, president and CEO of Vincentian Collaborative System.

Ken Rice: Your communities are built on in-person interaction and human connection. That's not possible right now. So what's it like for your residents?

Nick Vizzoca: Our independent living folks do stay in contact with each other and with their families. There's a lot of video chat. So they are in their rooms. They're very good at practicing social distancing. A lot of the interaction is now happening through the technology instead of in person. They do that through their iPads. Not only do they video chat through the iPads, but also we're very spiritual at Vincentian so they can go to daily mass that's broadcast nationally. We get that to them through their iPads.

Rice: Seniors can be vulnerable to feeling lonely, to feeling isolated, if not depressed..."

Vizzoca: Yes, I think they're coping very well. In fact, we gave them some tips -- get up and do your daily routine. For a lot of us working from home, you tend to stay in your sweats and you tend to stay in your jeans. They'll get up and get ready like it's a normal day. Because let's face it, they want to look good for the person on the other end of that video chat."

Rice: What's your advice to relatives who have loved ones in Vincentian facilities? It's got to be very frustrating if they can't visit."

Vizzoca: You can go to our website and we have a mailbag. They can send mail and we print that out at the facility for them. Contact us, we'll set up a video chat.

"But the most important thing is to remember they're our family, too. First and foremost, the priority is the health and well-being of those residents. So as I urge my employees, I would say to everybody else, just keep your composure, stay focused, stay strong and we'll all stay safe."

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