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Caregiver Sleepovers During Polar Vortex Warmed the Hearts of Older Adults

In the latest cold snap, several senior living community caregivers in Chicago and the suburbs stayed overnight at work to make sure the older adults in their care had hot meals, help with medications and other support as needed and to keep the good times rolling for the seniors confined to the warm indoors. 

Pathway to Living team members representing wellness, culinary, maintenance and administration from communities in Chicago’s South Chicago and Galewood neighborhoods and the towns of Calumet City, Melrose Park and Westmont stepped up by sleeping over at work. 

“Our team members had a heartwarming response to the freezing temperatures by putting the older adults’ needs ahead of their own,” said Leslie Eldridge, acting Executive Director of Pathway’s Aspired Living of Westmont community, where about seven team members stayed over on Tuesday and Wednesday night.

The overnight shifts were necessary because team members knew there was a good chance that they wouldn’t be able to return to work if they went home and that many of their co-workers wouldn’t make it in because of the dangerous cold weather, potentially leaving residents without enough caregivers. 

At Victory Centre of South Chicago, where many employees take the bus to work, about 15 team members slept on air mattresses and cots to make sure their residents received the level of care and service they deserve and expect. 

What’s even better, some team members’ children joined the sleepover fun. “The kids helped take everyone’s mind off of the weather and kept the mood light and fun,” said Crystal Thomas, South Chicago’s Community Life Manager. “They introduced our residents to the joy of making and playing with homemade slime.” 

The baby of a Westmont team member was the most popular overnight guest.  “Our residents were thrilled to get a turn at holding and cuddling the baby,” said Eldridge. At her community and others, team members and their children were treated to fuzzy slippers, candy and hot chocolate in appreciation for their commitment to the residents and each other. 

Pathway to Living celebrates all life stages and aims to change the way society thinks about aging, starting with hiring people who are making a positive difference in the lives of older adults.