Sheltering-in-place in a senior residential facility

Kiyoshi and Tazuko Naito. photo courtesy of Kiyoshi Naito

Retirees Kiyoshi and Tazuko Naito once led busy lives, visiting Japan twice a year, going on cruises, attending Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants games, visiting museums and dining in restaurants several times a month. However, the coronavirus pandemic has hampered the couple’s lifestyle, which Kiyoshi Naito, 86, described in an e-mail to the Nichi Bei Weekly as “restrictive, confined and dull.”

The Naitos, who reside in The Sequoias San Francisco, a residential living facility for seniors, have tried to keep busy in their apartment. He watches news and sports highlights on the computer, watches TV, reads and shops online. He also participates in meetings and seminars via Zoom.

Due to the pandemic, residents are not allowed to visit the post office, businesses or banks, but medical and dental appointments are exceptions, as they are deemed “essential,” Kiyoshi Naito said.

Jack and Jun Dairiki also reside at the senior facility, which is located in the city’s Japantown. Due to the coronavirus, Jack Dairiki, 90, has not been able to play tennis since March, a game he’s played for more than a decade, his wife said. They have lived at the residential facility since July 2013.

Jun Dairiki, 86, has missed meeting friends for meals or coffee. Jack Dairiki said the quarantine has been tough on “the mind and body,” but they exercise to destress and take care of themselves.

According to Jun Dairiki, the facility has a monthly COVID-19 testing program, with residents from different floors getting tested every Monday. The Dairikis, who reside on the 19th floor, said they tested negative Nov. 30. However, Jun Dairiki said the facility informed them Dec. 3 that people had tested positive.

She added that “management is very good about letting us know” if people test positive for the coronavirus.

Glenn Goddard, the executive director of The Sequoias San Francisco, told the Nichi Bei Weekly in a phone interview that the facility undergoes a lockdown “only … if we have potential cases that we are tracing.”

Goddard was unable to confirm that people on-site had been diagnosed with the coronavirus Dec. 3. He said residents have three meals per day delivered to their door.

Unlike some Sequoias residents, Akemi Tanouye, 89, a Kimochi Home resident in San Francisco’s Japantown, said in an interview her daughter, Amy Tanouye, translated from Japanese to English, that “life has been pretty much the same” during the pandemic.

During the pandemic, Amy Tanouye has connected with her mother through phone calls, socially distanced outdoor visits and FaceTime.

Although Amy Tanouye is concerned about her mother contracting the virus, she is “hoping that with all the extra safety precautions they’re taking there that everybody will stay safe until we get over this hump.”

Linda Ishii, the administrator at Kimochi Home, said while its senior residents have not been allowed to leave the building since March, visitors may schedule a socially-distanced meet-up with residents outside on Kimochi Home’s patio.

Visitors are asked to sanitize their hands and complete a screening questionnaire. They also take their temperatures, Ishii said.

Both the residents and visitors wear face coverings, Ishii said.

The residents are also starting to do activities in small groups for limited periods, Ishii said. The 15 Kimochi Home staff in San Francisco and 12 to 13 Kimochi San Mateo staff, are tested for the coronavirus on a regular basis, Ishii said.

Although all of his residents have been affected by the virus from either a mental or physical standpoint, Goddard said he has seen “a lot of camaraderie here within the community.”

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