The Everly Brothers’ “Little Susie” blasted through the courtyard of the Springbrooke Senior Living center in southeast Denver, echoing off the walls and patios of its surrounding apartments which were full of residents blowing bubbles and waving streamers.
Lois Karbach sat in the sun in her wheelchair, singing. She knew every word by heart. She said it brought her back to being a high school student in Pueblo.
“It’s a kick,” Karbach said, full of excitement. “Breaks the monotony!”
It was a celebration and a shindig in a time of social isolation. Springbrooke’s executive director, Cindy Burbach, wanted to create an opportunity to thank her staff and residents in what could otherwise be a tough time as cities across the country lock down to stem the spread of COVID-19. She blasted “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and a Johnny Cash rendition of “You Are My Sunshine.” She spoke from a microphone in between songs, filling the courtyard with messages of support and gratitude.
“They love it. They’re excited,” she said. “The residents really need to have more social interaction. Because we’re social beings.”
Burbach said she’s had to become something of a “drill sergeant” in recent weeks. The health and safety of everyone in her charge depends on it. She’s instituted strict screenings for anyone entering the facility so her assisted and independent living facility does not become a hotspot for the virus, like has happened at some senior facilities in Washington state.
Karbach said she’s aware of the situation unfolding outside of Springbrooke’s walls, but she’s not watching the news too much and she knows she doesn’t have to worry.
“We’re very safe here,” she said.
The news just raises her blood pressure and makes her crazy, she said. Her only concern is for her “darlings out in the world,” two 40-year-old sons and her young grandchildren.
Nancy Litvak came to visit her husband, Gary Sindler, and they danced together with ten feet and a closed glass door between them. Sindler was diagnosed with Aslzhiemers a few years ago, and he had to move into Springbrook’s memory care unit last December when his condition worsened.
“Up until this craziness started, I was here almost every day. We could go out to movies and dinner,” she said. “Right now, it’s pretty tough.”
Litvak said her husband and his comrades in memory care have had a tough time understanding what’s going on with the virus. Burbach said her staff has taken extra care to keep them separated from other residents. They may forget the social distancing rules and touch someone without realizing why that’s not OK.
But Litvak said she and Sindler are “so lucky” that the new coronavirus hasn’t crept into the walls here, and she’s comfortable putting her trust in Burbach and the rest of the staff.
“They’re all so loving,” she said.
Burbach kept the music playing after the sing-along ended. Residents stayed on their balconies, enjoying the sunshine and bubbles floating though the air.