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'We are coming back to normal' | COVID-19 vaccinations give some Bangor senior citizens a sense of normalcy

With all residents vaccinated, people at Solstice Senior Living in Bangor can have family visits and more group activities. The dining room has also re-opened.

BANGOR, Maine — About a year ago, most nursing homes and long-term care facilities in Maine closed their doors to the public to keep the most vulnerable population safe from COVID-19.

Those restrictions led to declining mental health for many seniors.

"For the residents here, we did deal with a lot of depression," said Beverly Austin, the director of sales and marketing at Solstice Senior Living in Bangor. "It was just really difficult and they weren't able to see their family and visits from their family were huge. When all of that stopped, certainly it became more difficult just to get people to come out of their rooms and at least visit with one another."

Now, most residents who live at nursing homes or long-term care facilities throughout Maine have received all of the required doses for the COVID-19 vaccine. That is the case for all residents at Solstice Senior Living. 

That enabled the facility to allow for family visits, more group activities, eating meals together at the dining room, and going out to shop or to run an errand.

"All of our residents are now vaccinated," said Austin. "Their spirits are so much better, and with the sunshine and being able to come outside -- it's been a win win for everybody."

"We are doing one floor at a time for dinner, slowly incorporating our services," said Austin. "Involving more of our residents in activities so little by little we are coming back to normal."

Driving services for seniors are now back in action too, residents can now go and get their prescriptions, go to Walmart, or to their favorite stores.

"They live in this community, this is their home and for a long time they were not even able to have family visit them, so they've had each other, so now this is enabling them to have their family come back in to visit." added Austin.

"I see more smiling, and people not staying in their rooms all the time," said resident Dott Quinn.

Quinn said sharing a conversation across the table at the dining room makes a big difference, very different than eating every meal inside her room.

"I missed fishing, and going out just to a movie, or just to a restaurant. Now we can do it," said resident Victor Pinkham.

Dott Quinn said she feels happier, especially after seeing her family.

"We finally had a hug on Easter, from last February!" said Quinn.

Even though many restrictions were lifted at Solstice Senior Living, staff members are constantly cleaning the facility, family visits are scheduled at different times, and of course, even though they are vaccinated, everyone follows distancing and masking guidelines.

If you are interested in learning more about the services Solstice Senior Living offers, click here.

RELATED: Battling isolation and depression at senior living facilities during COVID-19