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Nursing home residents spend lockdown playing Hungry Hungry Hippos

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These nursing home residents are “hungry” from some entertainment.

Under lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit our elders the hardest, senior adults and elderly care centers are doing their best to come up with creative ways to keep residents fit and happy in the absence of family and friend visitations, field trips to local attractions and outdoor outings.

Take the Bryn Celyn Care Home in Wales, which has been in isolation since March 12. According to the home’s general manager, Michelle Williams, their patients have managed to keep morale high by filling their schedules with as much cooking, quiz games, craft sessions and exercise classes as possible.

“Everyone in the home team and residents are worried about the virus. But we are staying positive and doing what we do every day, which is supporting our residents, and keeping it as normal as possible,” Williams told CNN, adding that “stringent infection control measures” are being practiced by staff and residents.

But once all that craft glue had dried and quiz games won, the caretakers at Bryn Celyn innovated a new activity last week that combines exercise with the wholesome fun of board games: a life-size version of Hungry Hungry Hippos.

The object of the classic Hasbro game is for each player, or “hippo,” to gobble up as many marbles as they can. In this case, the hippos were the residents, most in wheelchairs, using broomsticks fashioned with plastic baskets for collecting snacks. Instead of marbles, which would elude even the most agile of seniors, they used colorful playpen balls, similar to what you’d find in a playground ball pit.

A video showing four residents, each paired with a staff member, was shared on social media last week.

“Residents really enjoyed playing a new game today Hungry Hippos,” they wrote in a viral Facebook post with over 1.7 million views and 22,000 shares. “Lots of laughter to lift morale of the team and residents!”

Williams reported that both staff and residents are feeling well and show no symptoms of illness caused by COVID-19, but that can’t be said for other nursing homes, such as the Life Care Center of Kirkland, Washington, where dozens of patients have died due to fatal complications associated with the illness.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have set up a webpage with guidance written specifically for nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

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