Posted on April 6, 2021 by Admin
St. Catharines, Ontario, about 12 miles northwest of Niagara Falls isn’t exactly known for its abundance of tropical plants, but that hasn’t stopped Gloria – an Atria resident at Anchor Pointe – from surrounding herself with flowers that might better thrive in Costa Rica than Canada.
Gloria has decorated her apartment with philodendrons and coleus, dracaenas and peace lilies, a schefflera tree that’s now over six feet tall – just to name a few – plus a red ceramic pot filled with red anthuriums. “They look like hearts,” Gloria said. “That’s why I love them. And I have six lavender mist orchids with a variety of ferns combined in the pot. I love mixing my colors. It speaks to me.”
“Follow your mind and your heart”
Gloria grew up in Toronto, about an hour north of Anchor Pointe. Her father was a millwright and traveled for work – everywhere from Alaska to Newfoundland and Labrador – and while he was away, the family chores sussed out so that Gloria handled the gardening, a task she loved from the start.
“I would plant onions and vegetables and cultivate them in the backyard. It wasn’t ever work – it was always a joy, and I always brought little flowers inside for my mother,” she explained.
As an adult, Gloria took classes to become a floral designer. At the end of her courses, the instructor told her, “Out of this class of 22 people, you are going to be the one who has a business.”
He was right. In the summer of 1963, Gloria opened a floral shop. “We had the whole kaleidoscope of anything commercial, from your everyday carnations to orchids and everything in between,” Gloria said.
She ran the shop for 39 years, before closing it in 2002. She still tells her children (“and anyone who will listen”) to make sure to love what you do for a living and not let anybody interfere. In Gloria’s words: “Follow your mind and your heart and you’ll be very happy.”
Discovering Anchor Pointe
In the years after she closed her shop, Gloria explored other interests. She freelanced as an interior designer for a close friend (who liked her work so much that he hired her to landscape his backyard). She planned parties. And she watched her kids mature into adults and follow their minds and hearts – her daughter Carla, who started helping around at her shop when she was only three, now manages a floral shop and garden center; another daughter, Andrea, is now semi-retired but worked as a hairdresser; and her son, Michael, an electrical contractor who owns his business.
When Gloria was thinking about moving to a senior living residence, Michael researched some of the nearby communities and found Anchor Pointe first.
They had two other community visits scheduled, but when Gloria walked into Anchor Pointe and looked around – seeing the chandelier, the high ceiling and people dining in an atmosphere of ease and comfort – she said, “Michael, cancel the other appointments. I’ve just found home.”
Had she known about Anchor Pointe before, Gloria said she would have moved in sooner.
“The grounds are lovely,” she stated. “The backyard has a garden, and beautiful trees. There’s a forest in the back. Having the plants around and the grounds being as they are gives you peace of mind. The place is so well taken care of.”
Gloria has replicated the beauty she finds outdoors at Anchor Pointe inside her apartment with the flowers she’s loved all her life.
“When I open my eyes to greet another day and I see their color, it invigorates me. I touch them. I water them. I clean them,” she said. “I’ve made many friends at Anchor Pointe, but the flowers are also my companions, and they remind me of that part of my life that was so important and vital, and I love with my heart and soul.”
When Gloria was moving into Anchor Pointe, Andrea brought her a momento that she picked up while on a vacation: a coffee mug with the words “Home is where the anchor drops.” To Gloria, it seemed so apropos that she’s now added decorations of anchors throughout her apartment – symbols of home mixed in amid her flowers. “I’ve found home and it’s certainly called ‘anchor,’” Gloria exclaimed. “It’s called Anchor Pointe.”
If you or someone you know wants to learn more about Atria, visit AtriaSeniorLiving.com/FindACommunity to discover the community nearest you.
Category: Active Aging, Community, Wit & Wisdom
Posted on April 1, 2021 by Admin
At Atria Senior Living, our mission is to serve the needs of older adults and their families. To that end, one of the ways we deliver on that mission is to develop new senior living communities. Our latest such development in the works: Atria Cary in none other than Cary, North Carolina.
An idyllic setting in the Tar Heel State
The township of Cary straddles the line between the Piedmont and the Coastal Plain regions of North Carolina, located roughly in the center of the state and between the Chapel Hill-Durham and Raleigh urban centers.
“Atria Cary is in a beautiful setting – I mean, stunning,” Jamie Floyd, Vice President of Sales Training and New Developments and Acquisitions at Atria, said. “There are miles of trails and greenways that weave around Cary. The town’s not that big, so there’s a lot of walking space and a strong lean toward wellness and outdoor living and activity.”
Scheduled to open in winter 2021-22, Atria Cary will be one of Atria Senior Living’s communities designed exclusively for older adults seeking independent living. Atria Cary was planned with the area’s trails and greenways in mind, so that residents can find abundant opportunities to get out, be in nature, ride a bike, go for a walk, and so on.
Touring the grounds
Atria Cary residents will enjoy amenities such as a wine bar, a movie theater, an art studio, a courtyard, a worship space and more. Being involved in the development, touring the grounds and poring over blueprints, Floyd can already envision what Atria Cary will look like.
“There won’t be a bad view from any apartment,” she said. “You’ll look out at tall pines that sway in the breeze or the sunset and the amphitheater across the way. It’s just amazing.”
To learn more about Atria Cary, visit AtriaCary.com.
Category: Active Aging, Community, Our Team, Wit & Wisdom
Posted on March 25, 2021 by Admin
Diane worried about leaving the hospital. She’d been admitted, again, for losing consciousness due to a health issue that caused her blood oxygen level to drop.
“It’s scary to wake up on the floor and not realize what happened,” she said. “Since I live alone, my family and I decided I should recuperate at Atria to make sure the new treatment plan from my doctor works. If not, somebody will be there to help.”
Diane is staying at an Atria community while she recuperates. Short-term stays offer older people like her an excellent way to receive the care and support they need while recovering from an illness or surgery. Short-term stay guests enjoy a furnished, private apartment plus all the same services, amenities and social opportunities available to Atria residents.
A short-term stay is also a great way to see what senior living is like.
A better outcome
When an older person is discharged from a hospital or rehabilitation facility, their recovery depends largely on following doctors’ orders. Are they taking medications properly? Adhering to their new diet? Keeping follow-up appointments?
For people who live alone, no longer drive and may possibly be dealing with a number of chronic health conditions, compliance is often a struggle. As a result, their recovery can suffer and they risk a setback, which could lead to another hospital or rehab stay.
“A lot of short-term stay guests come to Atria due to health issues,” said Karen Devaney, Atria’s National Director of Care Management.
“Short stays offer a way for people to recover with trained staff available around the clock to make sure they’re doing everything they need to do,” Devaney added. “We also provide their meals, housekeeping, drive them to appointments and offer opportunities to connect with others.
“Short-term stay guests go through the same initial care assessment as residents before move-in. The care coordination they receive is also the same.”
So, instead of juggling instructions from numerous healthcare providers, a short-term stay guest can focus on recovering while Atria manages the rest. Care coordination also makes sure everyone involved in a person’s well-being is on the same page – from doctors, nurses and physical therapists to caregivers and family members.
A quick solution
A short-term stay often comes to the rescue for families facing a sudden or unexpected situation. An older family member may be discharged from the hospital or rehab sooner than anticipated and needs a place to recover. Families may discover an older relative’s living environment is no longer safe.
“Our door is always open,” stated Pamela Filby, Atria’s Vice President of Sales. “When a person needs to move quickly, a short-term stay provides a furnished apartment on short notice, with support available around the clock.”
Knowing their older relative is safe and cared for gives family members time to more thoughtfully explore their options.
A welcome change
When it comes to taking a break, short-term stays go both ways.
Caregivers occasionally need time off to rest and recharge. Maybe they’re planning a vacation with their spouse and children and need to make arrangements for Mom. Since short-term stay guests enjoy the same services, dining options, amenities and social opportunities as residents, the break can be a welcome change for her, too.
On the other hand, perhaps an older family member would like to enjoy a long visit with relatives in another state but doesn’t want to stay in a hotel or the family’s home.
“We have regulars,” said Filby. “We jokingly call them ‘frequent fliers.’ It’s a nice way for them to get to know the community.
“We even have couples who book short-term stays at communities in Florida, just to get away and have everything handled for them.”
A toe in the water
“Sometimes a family is reluctant to make a move and sell the home, even if they’ve started to realize their parent needs more care,” Filby explained. “We suggest families try a temporary stay while sorting things out.”
For active older adults who don’t need daily support but are ready to downsize and let go of the cooking, cleaning and home maintenance, a short-term stay is an ideal way to try out senior living. After a short-term stay, many realize how much more fulfilling their lives can be when surrounded by daily opportunities to pursue new interests and hobbies in a community of friendly neighbors.
“I hope more families take advantage of short-term stays because the benefits can be tremendous,” said Filby.
Category: Active Aging, Caregiver Support, Dementia & Memory Care, Wit & Wisdom
Posted on March 21, 2021 by Admin
Marissa Jacobson-Ojinaga, the Engage Life Director at Atria Rancho Peñasquitos in San Diego, California, has loved learning from the world’s wisest people ever since she was in elementary school. She regularly volunteered with her classmates at a senior living community across the street – playing cards with the residents, listening to their stories and reading with them. “That experience just spoke to my heart,” Marissa said, “in part because I had such a close bond with my grandparents.”
Because her parents traveled so much for work, Marissa’s grandparents were quite involved in her upbringing. They dropped her off and picked her up from school and taught her everything from how to play golf to smaller lessons like folding socks instead of balling them up, which she still carries with her today. “Losing them was hard, but I’m so thankful for the example they set in my life,” Marissa said.
After graduating high school, Marissa went to work for a bank. The pay was good. The hours were flexible. She settled into the routine, the benefits, the weekends off – but she never felt fulfilled in her professional life. After Marissa met her husband, who owned an IT consulting firm, they moved around to Washington and Arizona. She worked in corporate banking and the home construction sector, but she often thought back to her grandparents and her time volunteering with residents in the senior living community.
“I always loved learning from our aging population, and because of the bond I had with them, I wanted a career where I could give back,” Marissa said. “I wanted to do something with purpose.”
Believing in herself
Throughout their marriage, Marissa’s husband traveled every week to meet with clients around the country, taking a red-eye flight on Sundays and coming home on Thursdays. The demands of that schedule sometimes felt onerous to the couple, so in 2018, when one of his clients offered Marissa’s husband a more settled role in San Diego, he accepted – relocating, in large part, because of the sense of stability the move gave to their lives.
Once in California, Marissa applied for a few positions that dovetailed with her prior experience in banking and home construction, but she ultimately decided to wade into senior living, to see if she did have the emotional capacity for it – a field she respected so much she was hesitant to work in it. Within a few weeks, a role as an Engage Life Director – a specialist who develops a calendar filled with daily opportunities for residents to engage, connect, and create – opened up. Marissa applied and was hired.
Almost at once, she felt comfortable at the community. “I know the staff’s children’s names. They become part of your family,” Marissa said. “I have some of the residents’ families tell me that their son is getting out of the Marines and they show me a picture. You become part of their lives. They allow you to share moments with them – it means so much. I’m more thankful for this job than any job I’ve ever had before.”
After two years at Atria Rancho Peñasquitos, Marissa continues to learn from and engage with residents every day. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, she hosted teatime socials, arranged games, organized outings to go shopping and visit nail salons, and led group events like “Passport Around the World,” where residents learned about different cultures and sampled a medley of cuisine that paired with each lesson. She also loved hosting the “Marissa Mimosa Show” – a mock talk show format where she passed out mimosas and acted like she was Ellen DeGeneres, interviewing staff and residents. “What can I say? I’m kooky and crazy.”
Today, with safety restrictions in place, Marissa still has fun keeping the community lively, and she moves about her day knowing that she has finally found her calling at Atria. “I love coming into the building every morning,” she said. “The second you walk through the front door, it’s a welcoming environment. Everybody here is approachable. They’re friendly. Building relationships with the residents is one of the greatest honors of my life.”
Just as the smaller parcels of wisdom her grandparents shared – the admonition to fold her socks, not ball them up – linger in her mind, the advice on living well every day that residents give her resonate the most with Marissa. One resident told her recently, “Don’t get so caught up in the immediate. In the end, what matters is whether you and the ones you love are healthy and safe.”
The way residents have imparted insights upon her has centered Marissa. They remind her so much of her grandparents that she feels at ease to joke around with them, and she’s always looking for ways to make them laugh.
One resident loves watching Ronda Rousey fights, so Marissa snuck a life-size cutout of Rousey into his apartment and topped it with a bow.
“I had never seen him laugh so hard. It was super rewarding, because you feel a sense of loyalty to everyone here,” Marissa said. “I don’t think I could have been where I’m at or felt mentally more myself or emotionally more myself if it wasn’t for Atria. I can’t imagine working anywhere else.”
Learn more about all the ways that Atria’s a great place to work and current open positions at AtriaCareers.com.
Category: Active Aging, Community, Our Team, Wit & Wisdom
Posted on March 13, 2021 by Admin
At Atria, we believe the right amount of discreet personal care can help older people participate, grow and engage in what brings them purpose and joy.
We also believe in supporting families by doing everything we can to reassure them their parent is safe, well cared for and meaningfully connected to others.
Sheila and Rochelle
After her husband of 59 years passed away, Rochelle didn’t want to live alone. Friends suggested senior living, and her daughter, Sheila, traveled to North Carolina to help search for options. After touring Atria Southpoint Walk, they made their decision.
“It was wonderful,” Sheila said. “We knew within 10 minutes this was the place.”
A self-professed social butterfly, Rochelle settled right in. She loved the full calendar of events, friendly neighbors and chef-prepared meals. Sheila was relieved to see her mother gaining back the weight she’d lost after her father passed away.
Two years later, Rochelle took a fall. Sheila came to visit from Illinois while her mother recuperated. During treatment, doctors noticed a bit of memory loss and diagnosed Rochelle with mild dementia.
“Dementia doesn’t run in our family, so I didn’t know what to do,” said Sheila. “That’s when I started Googling.”
Sheila discovered Atria Glenview 10 minutes from her home in Illinois. Rochelle’s dementia was mild enough for her to move into assisted living, with specialized care available in the community’s Life Guidance® memory care neighborhood, if needed.
“It was much like the independent living community Mom came from so it was a good fit,” stated Sheila. “But knowing she had help taking her medications and staff to make sure she was eating was such a relief.”
Eventually, Rochelle’s dementia progressed, and she moved to Life Guidance. Sheila said the staff at Atria were there for both of them, every step of the way. The team not only provided compassionate, highly personalized care for her mother, they helped Sheila understand more about dementia, what to expect and ways to cope with her own feelings – through support groups and phone calls at least twice a week from Life Guidance Director Kelly Burnett.
“The regular contact eases my mind,” Sheila added. “I’ve been able to express my own fears and concerns without being dismissed. I can’t tell you how much that matters.
“When you think of all the changes that have happened with my mom, having Atria on our side to guide us has been invaluable. I don’t think people realize how deep the support can go at Atria.”
Jack and Richard
Jack gets around. The 89-year-old resident of Atria Oakridge in North Carolina knows every dining room server by name and most of his neighbors, too. Before COVID-19, he loved playing the piano during ice cream socials.
“Dad is really outgoing,” said his son, Richard. “He enjoys talking with people, and he’s sharp as a tack. He’s thoroughly enamored with Atria.”
Jack came to live at the community a few years ago after his wife moved into a skilled nursing facility. Richard lives 600 miles away and didn’t want to worry about his father living alone.
“I don’t think it would do him well to be on his own completely,” said Richard. “It’s not safe for someone his age.
“Since he’s been at Atria, I’m confident he’s in good hands. I never have to worry. That’s priceless to me.”
Holly and Martin
Martin moved to Atria Sugar Land in Texas four years ago. At 93, he often forgets to wear a face mask when leaving his apartment. Lucky for him, staff find creative ways to help; lately, they’ve been hanging a face mask on his walker with a friendly message reminding him to wear it.
“They’ve hired really great people,” said Martin’s daughter, Holly. “I work in education, so I know in any school system you can be in the worst building with great teachers or the best building with bad teachers. It’s all about the people.”
When searching for senior living, Holly and her father explored several communities to find one that was warm and welcoming. The day they toured Atria, Martin’s wife was too sick to join them.
“I told them we’d have one less for lunch, so the staff packed a meal to take with us for my stepmom,” continued Holly. “Little things like that speak volumes.”
Knowing her father has support around the clock gives Holly and her siblings comfort. Two years ago, Martin’s health issues required a hospital stay. After returning to Atria, he was weak and needed extra support. Staff escorted him to meals and checked on him several times throughout the night.
“Just knowing that attention was there lifted a big weight off our shoulders,” said Holly.
Regular communication also puts her mind at ease.
“That’s huge,” she said. “You want to know what’s going on and they keep us updated by email and phone.
“It’s clear to see they really care about residents. And I don’t have to worry.”
Discover how empowering the right care can be at Atria Senior Living at ExploreAtriaCare.com.
Category: Active Aging, Caregiver Support, Community, Wit & Wisdom
Posted on February 20, 2021 by Admin
At 94, Gloria had hardly ever washed her own hair, relying instead on regular visits to the beauty parlor. After moving to Atria, she kept up her routine at the community’s salon until it closed temporarily due to COVID-19.
That’s when Kelly Burnett, the community’s Life Guidance Memory Care Director, voluntarily took over washing and styling Gloria’s hair.
“That’s not her job, but she knows how important it is to my mother” said Gloria’s son, Bill. “It’s a great example of how caring the staff is. I’ll remember that forever.”
When Joe first moved to Atria, he was depressed. He’d just completed rehabilitation for a stroke, relied on a walker to get around and was developing mild symptoms of dementia.
Despite daily invitations to join his neighbors for gatherings and events, Joe stayed inside his apartment. But staff members didn’t give up. They continued their visits several times a day to say hello, check in and gently urge him to venture out.
It took a few weeks of patient encouragement before Joe started leaving his apartment. Soon he was participating in nearly every event.
“Everyone moves at their own pace,” said Tomika Polk, Divisional Director of Life Guidance Memory Care Operations. “Once Joe realized he could trust the people he lived with, he blossomed.”
Caring for the individual
No two people experience Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia the same way. The symptoms, behaviors and rate of disease progression look different for each individual.
Memory care at Atria is highly personalized to each resident, with one-to-one attention and support from caring staff in a secure, thoughtfully designed setting. Residents also enjoy daily opportunities to engage in meaningful pursuits such as art workshops, discussion groups and fitness classes.
Having worked in dementia care since 1993, Ron Bowen, Divisional Director of Life Guidance Memory Care Operations at Atria, says getting to know an individual’s likes and dislikes, personal history and what makes them tick is especially important when caring for a person with dementia.
“We want to understand the essence of a resident,” Bowen said. “We want to find out everything about Mom that will help us help her.”
To do this, caregivers collaborate with a new resident and their family to answer 116 specific questions, ranging from past occupations to favorite music genres to what calms and reassures them. Bowen refers to this as a resident’s life story.
“We take the answers to those questions and what they say about the resident, the things they like to do, and create a plan to keep them active and engaged.”
Most residents also receive a memory display to hang beside their apartment door. Families can choose to fill it with photos and meaningful mementos that illustrate their family member’s personality. The space also serves a practical purpose by helping the resident locate their apartment.
When staff members get to know a resident well, they can adjust the way they respond to certain behaviors. For some residents, music is a soothing antidote to aggressive behavior, which is a common symptom of dementia. Staff may help other residents focus on a simple task or project to redirect their attention in a positive way.
“What works for one person doesn’t always work for another,” Bowen said.
Developing emotional intelligence
A person with dementia can’t always control their emotions or communicate what they’re feeling. If they appear upset or confused, caregivers need to know the best way to respond.
Staff training at Atria includes universal dementia care methods such as redirecting or reducing distractions. Caregivers are also coached in more intuitive techniques such as “how to read a room,” as Bowen put it.
“We need to use our emotional intelligence when figuring out how to respond,” he said.
Emotional intelligence includes self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills. The more in touch a staff member is with their own emotions, the better they can assess another’s and respond appropriately.
“We ask family members how they approach Mom, and what kinds of emotions she typically shows. How we respond from an emotional standpoint is what helps the resident feel at ease,” Bowen said.
Polk agreed, adding that a caregiver’s mood also can impact the way a resident behaves.
“People with dementia can sense your vibe and react to it,” she said. “I train staff members to put aside any personal issues as much as possible when they come to work. We want to create a peaceful, enjoyable environment.”
Building trust and communication
Forging a relationship with family is also key to Atria’s personalized approach. After a new resident moves in, a designated caregiver contacts the family with updates every day.
“It’s about connecting from the very beginning to make sure families are part of the process,” Bowen said. “Once they’re on board, it makes caring for the resident easier.”
Whether it’s making decisions together about medical treatment or discussing Dad’s need for a new pair of slippers, staff stay in regular contact with family. In her previous role as a Life Guidance Memory Care Director, Polk even sent photos to family members showing the resident active and engaged.
“We want them to know what their family member is doing,” she said. “That’s one way to gain a family’s trust.”
Bill says the staff members who care for his mother, Gloria, have “just the right touch” and update his family regularly.
“When they call, the first four words are always ‘Your mom is all right,’ and then they talk about what’s going on.
“From the beginning, I could see that these people truly care. I can’t imagine a better place for Mom,” Bill said.
If you or someone you know could benefit from Atria’s forward-thinking, highly personalized memory care, please reach out to the Atria community near you for more information.
Category: Active Aging, Community, COVID-19, Dementia & Memory Care, Wit & Wisdom
Posted on February 15, 2021 by Admin
For older adults who want to maintain a level of independence – yet could use a helping hand to do so – assisted living offers a vibrant option.
Meet a few people who are enjoying a greater sense of well-being at Atria.
Jim and Rhea
Late one night, Rhea discovered her husband Jim lying on the kitchen floor, unable to get up. At 91, he was developing symptoms of dementia along with a heart condition that made him weak. For two years, Rhea had been her husband’s only caregiver and, at 88, she said she felt worn down.
“I had to take care of our four-bedroom house, pay the bills, deal with yard work, laundry,” Rhea said. “I was also taking care of my husband, who had just gotten out of the hospital. I had to do everything.”
Rhea knew caring for Jim on her own was no longer an option. After visiting four assisted living communities, the couple moved to Atria Cypresswood.
“Life here is absolutely wonderful,” said Rhea. “The staff has helped me so much by caring for my husband.”
Soon after settling into their Atria apartment, COVID-19 began popping up around the country, spurring community restrictions to keep residents safe. Despite quarantine measures and suspended social gatherings, Rhea says she’s grateful they made the move when they did.
“Coming here was a blessing because we probably would have had COVID by now,” she said. “The staff does a great job keeping everyone safe and healthy.”
With her husband receiving support and care services daily, Rhea feels more rested. She loves having time to read and sew and even made Christmas gifts for the entire Atria Cypresswood staff. She says she and Jim look forward to joining group events once they resume.
“We’re extremely happy here,” said Rhea. “The staff is lovely, the food is good, the people are kind and generous. We are very, very content.”
After her husband passed away, Jean suffered a minor stroke. She continued living alone in her house.
During one visit they found Jean lying on the floor, unconscious. That’s when Jean’s daughter insisted her mother move across the country to be closer. They started shopping for assisted living communities, and Jean moved into Atria Cypresswood around the beginning of the pandemic.
“It was a blessing to move here right when COVID started,” said Jean. “I’m so much better off than if I’d stayed in my house. The support we get here is grade-A, and they make everything so fun and happy.”
“Being here takes a lot of worry off my daughter’s mind.”
Maurine and Larry
After 55 years in their home on Long Island, Maurine and Larry needed a change. At 92, Larry had suffered a few falls and relied on a walker to get around. Maurine, 89, has balance issues and was finding it difficult to keep hauling laundry and groceries up and down stairs.
With help from their four children, the couple began looking for assisted living options. Shortly after starting the search, they found Atria Kew Gardens, and despite moving to the community during a period of COVID-19 restrictions, Maurine says she and Larry are thrilled with their decision.
“I don’t have to carry bundles up the stairs anymore," said Maurine. "They do the housekeeping, the laundry – which is great – meals are delivered to our apartment.”
Maurine and Larry are also improving their strength, balance and flexibility with occupational therapy sessions twice a week. Once life returns to a sense of pre-COVID normal, both look forward to visiting with family in person and participating in classes and events at the community.
“Life is a lot easier.”
Discover how empowering the right care can be at Atria Senior Living at ExploreAtriaCare.com.
Category: Active Aging, Community, COVID-19, Wit & Wisdom
Posted on December 31, 2020 by Admin
More than 4 million masks, 202,000 COVID-19 tests, 715,000 resident engagement programs, and 400 vaccinations. 2020 may have been rife with challenges, but thanks to the work and resilience of Atria’s dedicated staff, residents and families, 2020 has also had its triumphs. As the year comes to a close, Atria is reflecting on the accomplishments achieved over the last year.
From the inventive and delightful programs that keep residents engaged to the COVID-19 testing strategies that keep residents and staff protected, #TeamAtria is grateful for a year that reinforced what it means to be a team, community and family – no matter the circumstance.
Through hurricanes, wildfires, flu seasons and now a pandemic, agility and preparedness have been key in helping Atria create environments that are as safe as possible for older adults.
In the earliest days of the pandemic, this meant dedicating manpower and resources to procuring and distributing personal protective equipment (PPE) to Atria communities and even families of residents and employees.
In March, as Atria manned and inventoried a PPE warehouse, a partnership with Mayo Clinic Laboratories began. The collaboration has served as the cornerstone for Atria’s testing strategies and has been instrumental in keeping residents and staff safe. Air freighters, jets and turboprops were utilized to ensure supplies arrived the minute they were needed in early affected areas.
As testing kits were being deployed to Atria communities, an internal team began tracking the spread of the virus behind the scenes.
From business analytics to virus penetration analysis
Under the leadership of Atria’s Chairman and CEO, John Moore, a team began meeting nightly to track the virus’ penetration in Atria communities and across North America.
“Our charge in those meetings was to use our own data to see what the disease dynamics were in Atria communities, and then compare that to the disease dynamics within the cities where communities are located,” said Kyle Whittinghill, Director of Corporate Finance and Analytics at Atria. “This allowed us to understand what the risk levels were and how to manage and mitigate those risks.”
That data has impacted every level of the business, allowing community and corporate leaders to swiftly escalate or deescalate safety protocols and procedures accordingly.
“We were able to implement screening questions, PPE and infection control measures well ahead of local mandates,” said Abby Figueroa, Senior Vice President of Functional Operations at Atria.
Keeping residents engaged during the pandemic
Like everyone else, Atria residents and their families became familiar with video conferencing, group chats and livestreams. Accordingly, Atria’s Engage Life® team (those responsible for creating and arranging events and programs in communities) set out to keep residents engaged with their families and each other throughout the pandemic.
“From the very beginning, we wanted to make every interaction count. Whether it be through video calls or going door to door, we did whatever it took to give our residents the same excellent experience, as close as we could get it to what it used to be,” said Kristin Brown, Assistant Executive Director at Atria at Villages of Windsor in Florida.
As the virus persisted and cases rose, Atria communities enforced protocols that kept people together.
“What we feel the most is safe,” said Louise, a resident at Atria Darien in Connecticut. "And even though our protocols are strict, I’ve noticed people who were not exercising begin to exercise, and that’s rewarding."
Although keeping residents active through COVID-19 fluctuated between socially distanced activities and in-apartment programs, communities continued to look for new ways to keep residents engaged.
“Interestingly enough, the pandemic reminded us that human interaction is the element we all hold so close and prioritize. We just had to look at it differently,” Figueroa said. “We had to use different resources – obviously, technology, but it was also going back to basics.”
As Atria begins hosting more and more vaccine clinics for residents and staff, all safety protocols currently in place will continue to be observed until everyone has received the required vaccine doses.
In the meantime, Atria communities will continue prioritizing resident well-being by offering opportunities for physical activity and connection within and outside of communities.
#TeamAtria wishes you a safe, healthy and happy New Year.
This blog represents the most current information available. We strive to present the best information available at any given moment, but please understand that this situation is fluid and evolving.
Category: Active Aging, Community, COVID-19, Our Team, Wit & Wisdom
Posted on October 16, 2020 by Admin
“A firecracker.” “The life of the party.” “Señorita Estallita Fulla Suga.” Estelle Reiff goes by many monikers, which only makes sense for a woman who has played many roles in her long life – an accomplished dancer, teacher and mother. The beloved resident of Atria Forest Hills, a senior living community in Queens, New York, turned 100 in September, and continues to make a difference in the lives of those around her.
“I danced all my life – all I can remember is dancing”
Estelle Reiff was born in 1920 in Nashville, Tennessee, and started dancing at age five. By the time she was 10, she and her brother had formed a vaudeville act called “The Peppiest Pair.” Following a brief stint as a fashion deco model in the late 1930s, Estelle performed in local shows before joining the dance troupe of the renowned Mexican comedian and actor Cantinflas, with whom she traveled throughout the U.S. and Mexico in the 1940s.
In 1948, Estelle married Benjamin – also a dancer – and they settled in New York City, where she opened her own studio and worked alongside luminaries such as Gwen Verdon, Peter Gennaro, Bobby Van, Debbie Allen and Debbie Reynolds. Throughout her career, she danced tap, jazz, ballroom and especially Latin dance (hence the Spanish-styled nickname she gave herself: “Señorita Estallita Fulla Suga.”)
Estelle later served on the board of directors for the New York Society of Teachers of Dancing and was part of a local Hadassah group for more than 30 years, performing at fundraisers. She was also the senior dance instructor for the New York City Department of Education’s Adult Education Program for Dancing, working in the evenings with her husband at Flushing High School for more than 25 years.
In her early 70s, Estelle noticed there were not nearly enough dance programs tailored to seniors, so she set out to be part of the solution by teaching dance at a number of senior centers throughout Queens. She was a long-term participant at the Peter Dellamonica Senior Center, part of the Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens, where she danced every chance she got. According to her son, even a cane – and then a walker – couldn’t keep her in her seat.
“The furthest thing from a wallflower”
Estelle continued teaching dance for Dellamonica when she scheduled a tour of Atria Forest Hills in the fall of 2018. Since she’s been at Atria, she’s continued to contribute and inspire others in a different way.
“She really is a mother figure to everyone in the building,” said Beth Levi, the community’s Engage Life Director. “She’s the furthest thing from a wallflower. She needs to be social. You miss her presence when she’s not there.”
Before the pandemic, according to Levi, Estelle showed up to every program or party at the community. “If she missed anything, she’d be mad.” She treats everyone with respect and kindness, and even people her age seek out her advice. “I’m the 100-year-old encyclopedia,” Estelle said, laughing.
As her son Alan (pictured above) puts it, “just play music and see what happens. She will grab onto anyone close by to move her legs and wiggle her hips in a swirl of joyful movement recalling a lifetime of dance.”
To learn more about how Atria Senior Living is helping residents and families stay connected, visit AtriaSafeTogether.com.
Category: Active Aging, Wit & Wisdom
Posted on October 9, 2020 by Admin
Putting in extra hours. Making trips to the store for essentials. Setting up Zoom calls to help families and friends stay in touch. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Atria employees have gone above and beyond to help residents feel safe, connected and engaged. In turn, residents and families have been inspired to express their gratitude for the kind, caring, dedicated members of Team Atria. We’re honored to share some of their thoughtful words here.
To learn more about how Atria Senior Living is helping residents and families stay connected, visit AtriaSafeTogether.com.
Category: Active Aging, Community, Our Team, Wit & Wisdom