Savage senior living

Residents at the Savage Senior Living were offered the coronavirus vaccine Feb. 4 during a Valentine’s Day-themed distribution event in the dining hall. After being vaccinated, residents fired at heart-shape targets with a toy gun to win prizes.

Residents at Savage Senior Living received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine this month.

Several residents said the shot brings hope of being reconnected with family soon.

Rob Hood, 71, moved from Florida in March to be closer to his son and young grandkids in Prior Lake.

The morning of March 16, he and his wife settled into their new apartment at the Savage Senior Living. By noon, lockdowns were beginning.

Hood tested positive for COVID-19 in December, but remained asymptomatic throughout his infection.

He talks to his family on FaceTime almost every night. Sometimes, he drives to his son’s house in Prior Lake and they visit in the driveway or garage — but there’s no hugs, yet.

“No hugs,” echoed Robin Engelking, 64, who also moved to Savage shortly before the pandemic hit to be closer to her son and grandkids.

Engelking said she’s most looking forward to being able to visit her son’s house again.

In the meantime, Savage Senior Living’s exercise classes, such as chair-yoga, and dice games, such as Yahtzee and Farkle, help pass the time.

Educational movies have started playing in the theater, too. Lately, it’s been movies about the geology of the national parks.

Hood’s wife attended the film about the Grand Tetons. Their son lives in the region, fighting wildfires with the U.S. Department of the Interior. He’s also been vaccinated.

Marlene Honermann, 85, said the films help keep their minds active after months of isolation from family.

Music helps, too.

Honermann picked up the banjo three years ago, and this year she’s learning the kalimba — a wooden, handheld instrument with chimes you pluck with your fingers.

But nothing replaces time with family, Honermann said. There’s been both deaths and births in her family this year, but visits under restrictions have been brief.

Her and her husband have stayed inside their apartment throughout the pandemic as much as possible.

“That’s one of the things that’s really the hardest on seniors,” she said. “We are losing that family connectedness.”

To actually have someone visit the apartment for a couple hours; “that would be just heavenly.”

Sometimes, Honermann and her friends exchange reading material by dropping books outside each other’s doors, and they’ve recently started ballet classes.

Hood, Engelking and Honermann each said they are feeling good without any reaction after receiving their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Feb. 4. They’re scheduled for second doses on Feb. 25.

“We are just hoping that it will be everything that they promised it will be,” Honermann said.