Wit and Wisdom Blog for Atria Senior Living

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a new view on growing older
Atria senior living residents enjoying coffee and conversation

How to Winterize Your Home

Posted on December 2, 2021 by Admin

Winter is a few weeks away, and for many seniors and homeowners in the US, that means another season of inclement weather outdoors – and a few months spent checking that everything’s working properly indoors. Here are a few tips on how to winterize your home and avoid the challenges that can occur when the snow falls and the air freezes: 

  • Take a look at your heating system 

A lot can happen to an HVAC system over the course of a year. Dust can build up. Parts can break. Filters can clog. So when homeowners turn on their heating systems after being dormant for months, they may discover an issue they didn’t anticipate. Before it gets to that point, turn it on in advance to make sure everything’s working properly.  

Hire an HVAC company to inspect the ducts, furnace, and other heating systems in your house, and cover up any outside A/C units to shield them from snow and ice build-up. Once your HVAC is running properly, keep your heat set to at least 68–70°F. 

  • Protect your pipes 

Another reason to set your thermostat to 68–70°F is to make sure that your pipes don’t freeze. Burst pipes are one of the most frequent causes of property damage during the winter and can cost upwards of $5,000 in water damage. If you leave town for the holidays, you can turn the temperature down to 55°F, but don’t dial it down any further. Open the doors inside your house so that warm air can circulate. Let cold water drip from a faucet to keep water moving through your pipes.   

  • Inspect your chimney 

A fireplace is one of the joys of wintertime. If your chimney flue is closed, however, a fireplace or other gas heater might emit exhaust in your house, which may cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Check the batteries in your carbon monoxide poisoning detector or buy another one if it’s defunct or seems not to be working. Keep a fire extinguisher handy and make an appointment for someone to inspect your chimney when the weather turns cold.  

  • Eliminate any cold drafts 

Ask someone to inspect the crawl space, the attic, or any other hard-to-get areas to make sure that all the nooks and crannies of your house are adequately insulated. While they’re in your house, see if they can plug up any chilly drafts that may let the cold air in and seal up any cracks or holes with caulk. Consider installing a storm-door or weather-proof the windows. Replace any breezy summer curtains with heavier winter drapes.  

  • Clean out your gutters 

Another way to winterize your home is to ask a relative or a neighbor – or hire a gutter cleaning company – to clear out leaves, mud or sticks that may be clogging your gutters. Water finds its way into the tiniest cracks and holes in any home, and the accumulation of debris can cause rain and snow runoff to pool and seep into the roof, walls and even the foundation of your house. 

A good choice this winter 

Winter should be a cozy time for all of us. At Atria, our communities are furnished with all the comforts of home and equipped with the safety measures that come with being part of a senior living community. We know how to winterize our communities to create a home for residents that assures they’re safe and snug indoors when it’s sleeting and snowy outdoors. 

Visit AtriaWinterWellness.com to learn more about how we’re keeping residents safe this winter. 

Category: Active Aging, Community, Lifestyle, Wit & Wisdom

Atria Retiement residents enjoying a meal together

Why Choose Respite During Winter

Posted on November 23, 2021 by Admin

Respite is a short-term care option for older adults who want to try out senior living full-time, give their caregivers time off, or need a place to recover after a surgery. Read on for some of the benefits that respite can provide as the holiday season approaches. 

What’s Included in Respite? 

Before we launch into all the ways that respite might be a good option for older adults, let’s delve into some of the services that respite providers typically offer:

  • A Fully Furnished Apartment: 

Choosing respite means that older adults only have to bring clothes or other personal items – all the furniture and accommodations are already set up for them. 

  • Engagement: 

Providing a space for older adults to stay connected with one another, with their families, and with staff and caregivers in a senior living community.  

  • Assistance With Activities of Daily Living (ADLs): 

Assisting with eating, bathing, dressing, medical management, and other essential tasks that must be completed every day.

  • Dining Experiences: 

Preparing favorite dishes – or incorporating doctor-recommended foods into a meal – up to three times a day. Some senior living providers also offer full-table service with locally sourced ingredients.  

All these services might be performed in a senior living community, among other places. If you’re noticing that daily tasks are becoming more difficult for your parent, consider talking to a senior living community to see whether they offer short-term stay options. If they do, trying a short-term stay may be a great way to explore the start of your family’s next chapter. 

Prevent the Spread of Flu and Cold 

An added benefit of respite during winter is that it can minimize the transmission of the flu and common cold this winter. If a family member who is acting as a caregiver comes down with a fever, but still has to bathe or cook for an older adult, that older adult may catch the caregiver’s virus – which can be a serious health concern for seniors. A respite worker in a senior living community who’s flu-free and steps in for the caregiver, however, could perform the same functions while reducing the chances of spreading illnesses. Additionally, respite workers in a senior living community may set up vaccination clinics, which can help curb the prevalence of any viruses in that community. 

Ward Off Those Winter Blues 

All the evenings spent indoors during the winter can make anyone feel isolated and melancholy. A case of the winter blues is distressing enough, but in memory care patients, those symptoms can manifest in a condition called “sundown syndrome.” As many as 20% of patients with Alzheimer’s have Sundown Syndrome, which may lead to anxiety, mood swings, and delusions.  

For that reason, a professional at a senior living community can help older adults keep active and engaged with other residents – which can provide immense health and cognitive benefits. 

Care for the Caregivers 

Caregivers often fulfill their roles out of deep-rooted love and fidelity, but, like everyone else, they need time off to recharge and reset. Respite can help caregivers spend time with other friends and family, catch up on sleep, go to appointments with their doctors, or vacation in some warm climate during the winter to restore their energy.  

Choose Atria this Winter 

The abundant activities and delicious culinary options available in Atria communities make them delightful places to call home year-round. But over the next few months, consider looking into our short-term stay options where guests enjoy a sampling of resident life. The accommodations include weekly linen services, private apartments with alert systems, a vibrant social calendar, transportation to and from appointments, and chef-prepared meals in the dining room or with room service. Stay as long as you’d like – and enjoy the warm ambience of Atria this winter.  

Visit AtriaWinterWellness.com to learn more about how we’re keeping residents safe this winter. 

Category: Active Aging, Community, culinary, Wit & Wisdom

residents enjoying some morning stretches

Alzheimer’s Awareness

Posted on November 18, 2021 by Admin

Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most prevalent health concerns among adults ages 65 and older in the United States. At Atria, the health and wellbeing of residents is our highest priority, and since November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, we want to provide a resource for caregivers whose parents may be showing signs of memory loss. Read on for an overview of the distinctions between dementia and Alzheimer’s, how normal signs of aging differ from Alzheimer’s symptoms, and possible treatments for Alzheimer’s. 

Normal signs of aging versus symptoms of dementia 

The symptoms of dementia are not a normal part of aging. Normal aging might include weakening muscles, stiffening of arteries, and some mild age-related memory changes. For instance, an older adult – or anyone, for that matter – might occasionally misplace car keys, forget to pay a bill, or struggle to find a word. People diagnosed with dementia, however, suffer from sustained problems with communication, memory, and attention. Signs of Alzheimer’s and dementia might include getting lost in their own neighborhood, forgetting the names of their own children, or being unable to complete routine tasks. 

Are dementia and Alzheimer’s the same? 

Dementia is a not a disease, but a broad term that refers to various conditions of cognitive impairment. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia – accounting for 60–80% of dementia cases. Other manifestations of dementia include Lewy body dementia, mixed dementia, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and more.  

Dementia may also be reversible – tied to underlying causes such as vitamin deficiency, thyroid imbalance, and pressure in the brain. Family history, poor heart health, and traumatic brain injuries increase the risk of developing dementia, though the strongest risk factor is age. The majority of dementia cases afflict people ages 65 and older.  

How is Alzheimer’s treated? 

Unfortunately, there is no cure for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Some medications do mitigate anxiety-related symptoms, and some treatments may alter the progression of the disease. In general, physicians may prescribe certain medications that improve cell-to-cell communication networks. As of July 2021, the FDA approved aducanumab (Aduhelm) to treat some cases of Alzheimer’s. 

A doctor may also recommend fostering an environment for an Alzheimer’s patient that’s calm, safe, and supportive, and an exercise and nutrition regimen that promotes overall wellbeing. (Specific suggestions may vary between providers.) 

Memory care at Atria 

At Atria, we believe that despite the difficulties of memory impairment, a person with dementia can continue to live an engaging, joyful, and meaningful life. Our propriety approach to memory care, Life Guidance®is a specialized service that promotes the health benefits of physical activity, social connection and individualized care. Learn more about all that Life Guidance® offers, and read about some of the signs that it’s time to consider memory care. 

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: Community, Dementia & Memory Care, News In Aging, Wit & Wisdom

Billie Jean King and Atria residents team up to redefine aging

Posted on November 16, 2021 by Admin

People are living longer than ever before, and more older adults than ever are reimagining their next chapter of life. Together, legendary tennis champion Billie Jean King and Atria Senior Living residents are harnessing their wisdom and fervor for pursuing passions and goals to be bold in authoring the next chapter of their life story – regardless of age.   

American sports icon, humanitarian and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Billie Jean King recounts in her recent book, All In, the many hurdles she has overcome in writing her own life story. “There’s no greater satisfaction and joy than boldly being yourself or redefining a life chapter – at any age,” King said. “I am inspired by the thousands of older adults who champion their own life story.”   

Atria residents writing their next chapter 

Billie Jean King recently sat down with three Atria residents to talk about their inspiring life stories, their hopes for what’s next in life and their shared wisdom.  

For 94-year-old Sarah, she reflects most on staying true to herself and her chapter of supporting her family as an artist and sculptor. It’s a theme that King connected with as the women’s movement was the cultural moment for many highlights of her long career. Both Billie Jean and Sarah, who is a resident at Atria on Roslyn Harbor, continue their passions by picking up a tennis racket and a paint brush, respectively, every week.   

In Queens, New York, Ira failed music class as a student. But today at 77years old, he leads the Music & Memories program at Atria Forest Hills. His adventurous spirit means artists along the likes of Lady Gaga, Elvis Presley, Bruce Springsteen, and Louis Armstrong are featured in each of his classes.   

At Atria Tanglewood, Nanci most enjoys discovering what each day will bring. In retirement, she learned to paint, founded a short story writing group with her neighbors, serves as Resident Council President and volunteers often with elementary school students, who she considers her grandchildren.   

Inspiring others to rewrite their lives 

“We believe people belong together. It is awe-inspiring how the older adults who call Atria home arerewriting what it means topursue passions, regardlessof age or the perception of age,”saidJustin Guest, VicePresident of Resident Engagement at Atria Senior Living. “Weapplaud their boldness, celebrate theiraccomplishments and encourage others tobravely author their life chapter – at whatever age.”  

Share your story 

Atria invites older adults to share how they’re embracing each day to rewrite life asthey know itand redefine what it means to pursue passions later in life. Share your#AtriaNextChapter story on social media and visitAtriaNextChapter.comfor your chance to wina gift package, including an autographed copy of All In by Billie Jean King.  

Category: Active Aging, Community, Lifestyle, Wit & Wisdom

Flu and Cold Prevention for Seniors

Posted on November 12, 2021 by Admin

Fall marks the beginning of flu season in the United States, and adults who are 65 and older are one of the groups at higher risk of developing flu-related symptoms. Because immunity tends to decrease more quickly in older adults, it's important to talk to a physician about getting a flu shot for seniors this fall. Read on for an overview of how to prevent getting the flu and the common cold, symptoms of each, and ways to treat yourself if you do get sick. 

How to Prevent Getting the Flu and Colds 

The best way to prevent getting the flu or a cold is to schedule an appointment for a vaccination. No vaccine is completely effective, but studies suggest that a standard flu shot reduces the risk of contracting the flu by 40–60%Flu vaccines for seniors are recommended for people ages 65 and older.  Medicare, and most insurance plans, cover flu shots, but prices will vary according to the type of vaccine administered. 

When you get your flu shot, ask about being vaccinated against pneumonia, which can become a serious health concern. Pneumonia accounts for 30–40% of all hospitalizations among older adults, and often occurs during a patient’s recovery from the flu or a cold – people start to feel better, only to develop a cough and a fever. In addition to flu and pneumonia vaccines, maintaining these hygienic habits are excellent prevention measures: 

  • Wear a face mask. 
  • Exercise regularly and eat healthy foods. 
  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes. 
  • Keep away from sick people and crowded areas. 
  • Disinfect surfaces in your home or apartment – doorknobs, counters, telephones, etc. 

Signs and Symptoms 

Both flu and cold are contagious respiratory illnesses, but while influenza viruses cause the flu, a broader range of viruses – parainfluenza, rhinovirus, and seasonal coronaviruses – can cause the common cold. The signs and symptoms vary, as well. Let’s start with symptoms of both: 

  • Coughing 
  • Sore throat 
  • Congestion 
  • Runny nose 

These are flu symptoms, which are often more intense than the symptoms of a common cold: 

  • Fatigue 
  • Headaches 
  • Fever and Chills 
  • Unsteadiness or Weakness 
  • Muscle Pain, Body Aches, Chest Discomfort 
  • Worsening of Preexisting and Chronic Conditions 

This list is not exhaustive, but merely a sampling of some flu symptoms that may present, which generally come on quickly – sometimes 1–4 days following exposure to the virus. (Symptoms of a cold tend to develop more slowly and include sneezing and coughing, but not a fever.) If you’re over 65 and notice these symptoms, call your doctor at once. If you consult with a physician within 48 hours of your first symptom, your physician may prescribe an antiviral medication, which can help alleviate the severity of your illness. 

How to Treat Flu and Colds 

Unfortunately, there is no cure for the flu or the cold, so consult with a medical professional regarding the best course of action to treat those viruses. A physician may prescribe over-the-country medications such as ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) for symptoms of pain and fever, or other medications to treat secondary infections like pneumonia, bronchitis, or ear and sinus infections. Doctors also generally recommend getting plenty of sleep, drinking lots of liquids, and even eating a bowl of chicken soup. 

Stay Prepared 

At Atria, safety is our first priority. Healthy dining and fitness classes are part of every Atria community, and we provide on-site clinics and flu vaccines to residents during the fall and winter. Furthermore, 99% of Atria’s US employees are vaccinated from COVID-19, and our communities are enrolled in the CDC’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program. That ensures Atria residents receive top priority – and it means Atria is a safe place for older adults who want to live with peace of mind this winter. 

Visit AtriaWinterWellness.com to learn more about how we’re keeping residents safe this winter. 

Category: Community, Lifestyle, Our Team, Wit & Wisdom

How living in a senior community can help you enjoy retirement

Posted on October 29, 2021 by Admin

There are many articles and even entire books devoted to helping you enjoy your retirement. While the specific guidance they offer for active senior living varies, they generally have these two points in common: the importance of relationships and of finding purpose in daily life.  

At Atria, our vibrant senior living communities provide daily opportunities for the kind of meaningful connection and expanded learning that support creating a purposeful life. These topics are discussed in our Next Chapter series, which explores how residents are making the most of their retirement – and how Atria fosters their ability to do what they love. Here’s a look at how these older adults are enjoying retirement. 

Colorful connections 

“When you live as long as I have lived – for 94 years – you live many lives within one life.”  

That 94-year old is Sarah, a passionate artist and Atria on Roslyn Harbor resident. Her many lives include raising a family and being an accomplished illustrator, teacher and fine artist specializing in sculpture and painting. 

Sarah says she lives her life as though she’s going to live forever, because she doesn’t want to think that her age is holding her back from pursuing what brings her joy. For Sarah, this joy includes spending time with family and her continued passion for painting. 

Atria is delighted to support Sarah’s interests and to offer our community as a venue for her upcoming art show. Living at Atria has also helped her develop some very dear friendships. As Sarah explains, she was living alone, but the wonderful friends and community staff bring her a sense of security and make her feel like she’s part of a family. 

The power of music 

“Music is life itself,” is a Louis Armstrong quote that resonates deeply with Ira. When he made the move to Atria, music was Ira’s key to making new friends and renewing his sense of purpose. 

Music was a powerful bond between Ira and his father, and it’s what inspired him to create a music appreciation group called Musical Memories. Beth, the Engage Life Director at Atria Forest Hills, encouraged Ira every step of the way. Soon, others were looking forward to tapping their feet, clapping their hands and singing along to Ira’s playlist at the group’s regular gatherings. 

Atria helped Ira share his childhood joy and fostered meaning in his life through the many new friends he’s touched with his love of music. 

Inspiring others 

“I’m finally the person I’ve always wanted to be.” 

Nanci, a resident at Atria Tanglewood, expressed this sentiment while reflecting on her life – a life filled with great joy and the intense challenges she faced after being diagnosed with Lupus in her 20s. After raising a family as a single mother, Nanci later remarried. When her second husband passed, she made Atria her home. 

The person Nanci has become is one who is sharing her love of the written word by reading to the first-grade students at a local school. She is finishing up a very special storybook – a gift to the many enthusiastic children who so enjoy her regular visits. 

Nanci appreciates the support Atria provides and regards the community staff as family. In addition to volunteering at the school, she has found meaning in serving on the resident counsel and helping new residents discover the many opportunities her vibrant community offers. 

personal pursuit 

Retirement is a time to learn fun new things and share one’s passions with others. Atria is delighted to support the interests of so many of the world’s wisest people, like Dorothy, who recently fulfilled a lifelong dream of publishing a second book.   

Then there’s Sarah’s community neighbors Eleanor, Doris and Phyllis, New York natives who became fast friends at Atria but have very different interests; Shirleywho enjoys sharing her love of film with her neighbors; Bob, a veteran who just took the flight of a lifetime; and Linda, who loves teaching her Atria neighbors how to make beautiful watercolor paintings. 

As these residents’ experiences show us, retirement is truly a time to begin writing your next chapter. Atria is dedicated to providing the support and opportunities to make retirement as enjoyable and gratifying as it can be. 

Category: Active Aging, Community, Lifestyle, Wit & Wisdom

How much does it cost to live in a senior living community?

Posted on October 20, 2021 by Admin

The number of Americans aged 65 and older is expected to nearly double by 2060 – a shift that will increase demand for senior housing. In the coming decades, more people will ask themselves: “What is the cost of senior living communities?” 

That’s a complex question, and our immediate answer is that it varies according to location, the level of care required, and other factors. In a June 2010 report, the US Government Accountability Office identified some top-level national averages: 

  • Assisted living options: $1,500–$6,500/month 
  • Memory care units: Price varies according to location 
  • Skilled nursing units: $1,500–$10,700/month

The same report also found that all-inclusive retirement living can cost anywhere from $1,800–$600,000 in entry fees alone. The range of that dollar amount is so vast that, in effect, it means that the amount you can expect to pay can vary substantially. Still, what do those dollar values mean? What do you get once you pay them? Let’s delve into the numbers, detailing the costs associated with the type of community so you can get a clearer idea of which option is right for you and your family.  

The Cost of Independent Living Communities 

Independent living communities are best suited for seniors who are able to live on their own without assistance provided by the community. With that said, many residents of independent living communities do have care needs and often choose to contract with outside home care providers. They may make this decision for any number of reasons – including the benefit of selecting services on a more a la carte basis than an assisted living community might allow for. (Many independent living communities also offer the option of moving to assisted living housing whenever residents are ready.) 

The exact figure for how much independent living communities can cost varies according to where you live and the services and amenities that you can access. Upscale dining options, resort-quality features like swimming pools and wellness clinics, chauffeured car services and on-site medical concierge suites will all add to the cost of a lease. A community without any of those perks might not be as expensive.  

The median monthly cost of senior independent living in the US was $2,552 in 2018, but many senior living communities do not display their rates and require anyone interested in moving in to speak to someone at the community. At Atria, we’re upfront about our prices, tax and veterans benefits that older adults might be able to access, and we also provide an affordability calculator that makes all the costs of our services transparent. 

The Cost of Assisted Living Communities 

Seniors often choose an assisted living option to maintain their lifestyle and independence in their own apartment, while benefitting from round-the-clock support whenever they need it. Assisted living costs can vary, but as of 2016, the average rent of a one-bedroom assisted living apartment with a single occupant was $3,628 per month.   

Assisted living communities also include fees for care services based on an assessment of residents’ needs. The most frequently requested services include medication assistance and reminders, as well as personal care such as bathing, getting dressed, and scheduling appointments with physicians. Meals, laundry, and housekeeping are generally all included, and residents can still enjoy the ongoing programs, events, and workshops that the community hosts. Assisted living communities may also offer memory care neighborhoods for residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia. 

The Costs of Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) 

Continuing care retirement communities (or CCRCs) are designed so that residents can access higher levels of care when they need them without having to move to an entirely different community. They generally offer three levels of care: independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing units. As with assisted living, some CCRC facilities offer memory care for residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia – a service that incurs an additional cost.  

Since CCRCs do offer so many thresholds of care, they tend to be more expensive than communities that offer only assisted or independent living services. CCRCs usually charge an initial entrance fee, which starts around $100,000 for a non-purchase (or rental) arrangement, but they can climb to $1,000,000 depending on the size of the living unit and the community’s location. They also charge monthly service fees that typically range between $1,000–$5,000.  

The types of services that assisted living communities and CCRCs offer often overlap, so it’s worth noting a few differences between them: 

  • CCRCs generally ask residents to sign a sizable long-term contract and pay a hefty buy-in fee. Assisted living communities typically rent on a month-to-month basis and charge a minimal new resident service fee. (Similarly, CCRCs ask for a lifetime commitment, whereas assisted living communities rent monthly.) 
  • CCRCs may rely on continued care service contracts with other providers at off-campus locations. Assisted living communities generally have an in-house staff who maintain the consistency of care. 
  • Most activities at CCRCs are resident-organized. Assisted living communities tend to hire professionals who specialize in developing monthly calendars of events for the residents. These events might include fitness classes or guest lectures. 

The Costs of Living at Home 

We realize that we’ve blitzed you with a lot of numbers that, by this point, might beg the question: “Isn’t it cheaper just to live at home?” That all depends on your circumstances.   

Do you own your house or are you paying off a mortgage? Is your house or apartment equipped with aging-in-place modifications, or is that another investment that you’ll have to pay down soon? Are you able to perform maintenance or upkeep on your home, or do you pay someone to mow your lawn, rake your leaves, fix the backyard gate, and so on? 

Answering those questions can help you determine how much you’re really paying to stay at home rather than move into a community. With that said, bear in mind this analysis that the costs of aging-in-place modifications (such as installing ramps, grab bars, better lighting, and safer flooring options) total about $20,000–$30,000. Other estimates peg that figure much higher.  

The total cost of living in an assisted living community is around $48,000 per year. Compare that to some of the fees that can accrue when we choose to stay at home: 

  • The average cost of hiring a private duty aide who performs tasks such as cleaning or cooking is around $48,048 per year. 
  • Employing a full-time home health aide costs about $50,336 per year. 
  • Adult day health care typically runs around $18,720 per year. 

As we age, the costs associated with ensuring that we’re receiving the care, social support, and daily maintenance we need can all add up. Older adults often find that paying one lump sum for peace of mind is worth the cost. With a provider like Atria, that sum pays for all these features that comprise an active, engaged life: 

  • Social Life: Social, cultural, and educational events to look forward to every day. 
  • Transportation: Car or bus service that couriers residents to outings, errands, and appointments.  
  • Dining: Chef-prepared meal options that meet residents’ dietary needs. 
  • Housekeeping: An attentive staff handles all maintenance requests and keeps apartments tidy. 
  • Emergency Assistance: Access to on-site help 24/7 in the event of an emergency. 
  • Exercise / Fitness: Daily opportunities to improve strength, flexibility, and balance with other residents. 
  • Independence: Assistance from a discreet staff to help residents live on their own terms. 

Try Our Senior Living Costs Calculator  

Making sense of the costs that bubble up as we answer the “moving to a senior living community vs. staying at home” question can be overwhelming. That’s why we developed a senior living costs calculator and a care costs calculator: to help you tabulate your expenses and match them against the expenses that you’ll incur at Atria. See what the numbers tell you – and contact us today about the right choice for you. 

 If you or someone you know wants to learn more about Atria, visit AtriaSeniorLiving.com/FindACommunity to discover the location nearest you.  

Category: Caregiver Support, Community, Wit & Wisdom

What activities can you do in senior living?

Posted on October 15, 2021 by Admin

One of the benefits of moving into a senior living community is the opportunity to stay active and engaged. Communities use an assortment of names to describe these opportunities — “senior activities,” “elderly enrichment,” or Atria’s Engage Life® programs — but they generally refer to a customized calendar of events where residents can connect with each other, pursue their passions and express themselves creatively. Let’s delve into the types of activities you can do in most senior living communities and why they’re vital to the well-being of the residents. 

Why activities are important 

Recent studies have provided an insight about human behavior that cultures have known (or sensed) for countless generations: People who stay physically active and maintain strong social connections are healthier than people who are isolated or inactive. The more opportunities that we have to connect and get to know the people around us, the better our health, outlook, memory and brain function — and our capacity to continue to learn — will all be. 

Common activities available in senior living 

The activities offered in a senior living community can differ substantially, but here are a few of the mainstays that you typically find: 

  • Exercise Classes and Games 

Bowling, yoga, golf, lifting weights, playing bocce, ballroom dancing, taking boxing lessons — a vibrant senior living community should foster opportunities for residents to engage in a range of physical activities.  

  • Workshops and Classes 

Participate in a book club. Learn Sanskrit or sign language. Start an embroidery class — or a new discussion group on current events. Residents who love learning, discussing complex subjects, and broadening their skills can enjoy the insight and intellect of their peers with these self-hosted courses. 

  • Creative Talents 

Some of us are driven to create, whether we’re painting a summer garden on the patio or filling page after page with a story that keeps running through our minds. A quality senior living community will provide residents with the space and schedule to tap into their creative energy and connect with likeminded artists. 

  • Interaction and Engagement 

A great senior living community should also support an environment where residents play cards or Mahjong tournaments deep into the night, or enjoy some “grape therapy” — that is, a wine and cheese social — or run into each other at a happy hour in the patio or around the garden. 

  • Group Outings 

Another advantage of being a resident at a senior living community is the opportunity to go on trips to different cities or places of interest — a museum in Manhattan, for instance, or a scenic route through a canyon in California, as well as sporting events, lunches in the park, and shopping trips. 

How activities foster community and friendship 

Meeting new people, lifting weights, or playing a late-night bridge session help people feel like they belong. That, in turn, can lead to many other positive outcomes — improved self-esteem, peace of mind, and an investment of time into deepening the network of support that improves everyone’s quality of life. 

Engage Life® at Atria 

At Atria, we consider activities to be among the most important features of a senior living community, but we don’t call them “activities.” Our term is the Engage Life® program, which we’ve set up to foster interactions and bring new opportunities for residents to achieve their goals. Each community at Atria has an Engage Life® director who takes the interests of the residents into account to create a calendar of events and outings tailored to what they want to do. Learn more about Engage Life® and reach out today to learn more about what Atria has to offer. 

If you or someone you know wants to learn more about Atria, visit AtriaSeniorLiving.com/FindACommunity to discover the location nearest you.  

Category: Active Aging, Community, Lifestyle, Wit & Wisdom

Customer satisfaction at Atria

Posted on October 8, 2021 by Admin

The health, wellbeing and happiness of Atria residents and their families are of the utmost importance to us – which is why we take their feedback seriously. To that end, we send out surveys to our communities twice a year to gauge the opinions and insights of the world’s wisest people.  

We’re excited to share some of the Atria reviews that we received from five communities who took our Spring 2021 survey, and we’re proud to announce that we earned excellent scores in the following categories:  

  • Safety and well-being of residents 
  • Courtesy and friendliness of staff 
  • Responsiveness of community leadership to concerns 
  • Desire of caregivers to accommodate requests 

Read on to learn more about the recent senior living reviews, and how our staff and caregivers go above and beyond for the residents every day. 

Atria Tarzana 

Shak Rafat, the Executive Director of Atria Tarzana in Los Angeles, California, ensures that the Atria mission statement is top of mind for each employee at the community, and instills the core company values of trust, integrity and respect into his team. Shak takes the time to get to know each new employee. He also meets every week with the Resident Council president. That way, he can absorb the residents’ feedback and then take that feedback to the community directors so that they can implement it. 

For Shak, and the culture that he has helped create at Atria Tarzana, the emphasis is on continuous improvement. Everyone on staff puts in extra effort to provide an optimal experience for residents. Carlos, the valet, dedicated an entire day to helping a widowed resident find his wife’s wedding ring, which had gone missing. That’s just one example of how the staff at Atria Tarzana go above and beyond for the residents. 

Here’s a quote that seems to sum up how residents feel about Atria Tarzana: “The people that work there are amazing! They help make Atria a happy place.” 

Atria Windsor Woods 

Located in Hudson, Florida, Atria Windsor Woods was ranked second among Atria communities according to the recent senior living ratings. Executive Director Janet Brown attributes that placement to the hard work of everyone on staff – and their mindset of viewing feedback as an opportunity to improve. One example of acting on this attitude is the proactive steps that Windsor Woods took after residents discussed the food selection. The new staff members in the kitchen implemented the residents’ recommendations into new and improved menus. Their “Taste of food” scores went up around 10 points.  

The quotes that we received from the residents indicate that Atria Windsor Woods is a supportive community. “Everyone is so kind. This is now my home,” said one resident. Another resident said: “During the pandemic, all department heads helped out in the community. Very nice management decision to support front-line staff.” 

Atria Forest Hills 

For Jill Draggota, the Executive Director at Atria Forest Hills in Queens, New York, customer satisfaction starts with hiring compassionate team members who love what they do. Focusing on the details helps Jill and her team improve lives every day, and has led to results large and small. An Engage Life Director at the community, for instance, worked tirelessly to livestream a resident’s grandson’s wedding during COVID-19. Draggota’s team has also established an open-door policy with the Resident Council to absorb and build upon their feedback on an ongoing basis. 

A key quote from the recent survey: “The building is immaculately clean. The activities bring people together. They do everything they can for all of us. I love this place.” 

Atria Crestavilla 

Brian Keys, the executive director at Atria Crestavilla, follows the same plan whenever he receives survey scores: He asks his directors to report each month on areas where the survey indicated they could improve. Addressing those improvement areas have always led to increased resident satisfaction. The consistently excellent work that Brian’s team has demonstrated, in turn, inspires him to continue going above and beyond. 

As an extension of the culture of improvement and open communication that Brian has encouraged at the community, families have access to Brian via his cell phone, and he and his team work to resolve any issues within 24 hours. That approach, it seems, has led to some of these expressions of resident satisfaction: “The people who are part of the Crestavilla Team offer outstanding support. They may have a title, but in addition, these people wear a lot of hats! When an extra pair of hands is needed, they jump right in.” 

Atria Rancho Peñasquitos 

Spring 2021 was the first time that Atria Rancho Peñasquitos in San Diego, California, was among Atria’s top rated senior living communities according to the customer satisfaction survey, which came as no surprise to Executive Director Quinn Hernandez, who felt like his team shined during COVID. Hernandez witnessed his directors working in different departments, helping out at the front desk, and pitching in wherever they were needed. 

Hernandez instills in his team the idea that they are working in the residents’ homes, which helps put everyone’s job – including his – into perspective. He also addresses the feedback from the Resident Council right away and works with his directors to formulate improvement plans.  

According to feedback from one of the residents’ children, Hernandez’s assessment of how his staff exceeded the expectations of their jobs is accurate: “The staff is wonderful. They did an excellent job during COVID with keeping the residents and staff as safe as possible.”  


Atria values its senior living ratings because of our commitment to quality and our mission to create vibrant communities where extraordinary older adults can thrive and participate. When you choose Atria, your voice is heard. Learn about some testimonials from residents about their experiences – and contact us today to find a community that listens to you. 

If you or someone you know wants to learn more about Atria, visit AtriaSeniorLiving.com/FindACommunity to discover the location nearest you.  

Category: Active Aging, Community, Lifestyle, Wit & Wisdom

Billie Jean King’s autobiography, All In, is a look at the chapters that have defined her life

Posted on October 5, 2021 by Admin

At Atria, we admire sports icon and champion of equality Billie Jean King not only for her spectacular achievements in sports, but for how her indomitable spirit inspires us to create a more inclusive world. Her beliefs and life experience make her the perfect spokesperson for our Next Chapter series that explores how older adults are redefining aging. 

Now a New York Times bestseller, Billie Jean’s new autobiography, All In, is a spirited account of her life’s journey filled with insights and advice on leadership, business, activism, sports, politics, marriage equality, parenting, sexuality and love. Here are a few highlights that show how living honestly and openly can have a transformative effect on relationships and happiness.  

Meeting Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, tells a story of resilience, grace and resolve – one that Billie Jean holds dear. So, when she received a call one morning with an offer to meet the world leader, she jumped at the opportunity and hopped on a plane to Johannesburg. 

Mandela embodied qualities that Billie Jean cherishes most: Kindness. Generosity. Freedom. Equality. Forgiveness. She also shares his belief in transcendence and redemption. 

 “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion,” Mandela wrote. “People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can learn to love.” 

At their meeting, Mandela talked about his imprisonment at Robben Island. Despite the difficult living conditions, he sought out the humanity in his captors. Through persistence and humility, he managed to break down barriers and convinced the guards to make the prisoners’ lives less onerous. 

It was a wonderful experience, and Billie Jean still marvels at how Mandela “reimagined the country in ways people had doubted were possible.” She goes on to say, “For me, nothing has compared to meeting the man himself and walking in some of the same places he tread.” 

Making Black lives matter in the 1970’s 

Motivated by her childhood admiration for Althea Gibson, Billie Jean worked with her former husband, Larry King, to make tennis an equal opportunity sport. But despite the efforts of the Kings and others, it was still an uphill climb for the players of color on the Virginia Slims Tour in the early ‘70s.  

“Our crowds in Philadelphia were filled with American Tennis Association members (a Black-run organization) who gave them a warm reception,” recounts King. In Houston, the Black staff told the players they’d never seen Black women play professional tennis before, and it made them proud. But a stop in Florida was a different story. 

To the players’ dismay, they saw Confederate flags flying from every other flagpole around the grandstand at Miami’s Jockey Club. Ann Koger, one of the tour players, climbed the pole that evening and removed one of the flags. After informing Tour Director Peachy Kellmeyer that the remaining flags were an insult to the players and every other American, the flags were all taken down. 

Tournament housing also became an issue. Available rooms suddenly disappeared when Black players showed up at the tournament desk. Billie Jean approached the desk and, in a calm but direct manner, said, “You know, there must be some mistake. My friends here told me that you have no housing for them. And if that is true, I can assure you that I will not play in this tournament. And neither will anyone else. So, what are you going to do about that?” 

Moments later, rooms were found at a nice hotel. 

Billie Jean King’s legacy of equality 

In All In, Billie Jean writes, “Sports consistently reminds us how talent comes from all places, and how much we can achieve together, especially when we can accept each other without prejudice and recognize that our differences make this a richer world.” 

Billie Jean is creating a legacy that will endure and shape future generations. Working with others, she has helped create the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative, a non-profit undertaking that promotes equality and inclusion and advocates for equal pay. 

She says that we must continue asking ourselves whenever we consider any undertaking, When this is done, will we have helped make this world a better place? She feels we should define success as both doing well and doing good. 

Ed Woolard, Billie Jean’s dear friend and business mentor, helped her refine three guidelines to help us do well – and do good – by becoming happier, more successful human beings. 

  1. Be a problem solver and an innovator, and realize that once you identify a problem, it’s important to be a part of the solution. 
  2. Never stop learning, and never stop learning how to learn. 
  3. Relationships are everything.

For more insights into these and other stories, read All Inavailable here. And for inspiring stories about how older adults are breaking personal barriers, visit our Next Chapter website where you can watch Billie Jean interview Atria residents about how they are redefining aging. 

Category: Active Aging, Community, Lifestyle, Wit & Wisdom