Wit and Wisdom Blog for Atria Senior Living

      Wit and Wisdom      

a new view on growing older

Keeping the Atria family safe


Posted on April 9, 2021 by Admin


The health and safety of our residents and employees is our highest priority, and to deliver on that promise, we launched the “Sleeve Up Atria” initiative in late December – ever since COVID-19 vaccines became available.  

 As of April 9, we have administered more than 50,000 doses of the vaccine to nearly 90% of our residents and employees in the U.S.

“In early January, Atria was the first large senior living provider in America to mandate the vaccine for our staff,” John Moore, Atria’s Chairman and CEO, said. “The results make us glad we made up our minds early. So far, the breakdown is that more than 92% of our U.S. residents and 85% of our staff have taken the vaccine.” 

How vaccinations benefit residents

For the more than 20,000 residents who call Atria home, the success of “Sleeve Up, Atria” has translated into the confidence to enjoy meals and programs together. 

“Knowing we are no longer in the thick of it and that we’re getting back to normal makes me sleep better at night,” Beverly, a resident at Atria Rancho Peñasquitos in San Diego, California, stated. “I’m still staying safe, but now getting out and about again, and feeling freer. My next stop is our salon.” 

The vaccinations, along with state approvals, have enabled Atria to expand resident gatherings from 15 to 20, and expand the number of visitor– including families, guests and older adults interested in moving in to Atria – from three to five at a time. 

“The pandemic is not behind us yet, but now I feel safe to be with people, even though I still have to be careful,” Jansie, a resident at Atria at Foster Square in Foster City, California, said. “I have plans to visit my family in Seattle and see my grandchildren again.” 

 

Learn more about how Atria is protecting the health of our residents and staff at AtriaSafeTogether.com.


Category: Community, COVID-19, Our Team, Wit & Wisdom

Highly personalized care sets Atria’s Life Guidance® memory care apart


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

Personal care that empowers seniors to live more fully


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.”

Jean

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

What older adults can do to avoid vaccine scams


Posted on January 15, 2021 by Admin


The big news making international headlines is the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. As of January, about 11.9 million Americans have been vaccinated against the virus. While we can all be thankful for the speediness with which vaccinations have been developed and administered, the CDC, FBI and Department of Justice have sounded alarms about a concerning development: scammers using the rollout of vaccines to target and take advantage of seniors.  

These vaccine scams are so new that cases are just beginning to emerge. Ben Taylor, the Legal Aid Society's Elder Justice fellow, shared a few tips to follow to avoid vaccine scams.

Be wary of unsolicited messages 

The first two things to know about scammers are that they exploit people’s fears and revert to the same tactics over and over again. COVID-19-related scams involving fake PPE, cures and instant tests surfaced at the onset of the pandemic, and the same methods are repeating now with robocallsphishing emails, text and social media messages, and door-to-door solicitation.  

Here’s our advice, in shortNever interact with any unexpected messages from individuals or companies, even if they're known to you. If you receive an unexpected text message from someone claiming to be your healthcare provider, you can always call your provider directly to confirm its authenticity. Don’t click on any links in text messages or emails that seem abrupt or strange. And be skeptical of anything vaccine-related that asks for payment – the government is funding the vaccinations. Even if you have to pay for a shot to be administered to you, insurance will cover the charge. 

Don’t trust anyone who acts fast 

Another thing to know about scammers: They act fast and want to whip you into a state of panic so you act rashly. One strategy they employ is saying you’ll “lose your place in line” unless you pay for your vaccination right now. But no legitimate distributor is going to say you have to act immediately “or else. Older adults will be among the first across the U.S. and Canada to receive immunizations, but the process of immunizing the entire population will take months. 

Only share your information with trusted personnel 

One reason these scams may prove effective is because the vaccine rollout is such a massive undertaking, and distribution guidelines aren’t clear yet. Generally, the way the process works is the government provides dosages to states, and then state governors decide who receives the vaccines (while following CDC recommendations). While rollout and distribution details are being sorted, check in with your healthcare provider or local health department for further details.  

Finally, this above all else: Only trust your primary health provider with your medical and financial information. They are the only ones who will be able to tell you when and where you can be vaccinated. 

 

Atria Senior Living is the sponsor of the Legal Aid Society's Elder Justice program. Learn more about how to avoid vaccine scams at YourLegalAid.org/COVID19ResponseAndResources.

 


Category: Community, COVID-19, Wit & Wisdom

Atria residents a top priority for COVID-19 vaccine


Posted on December 4, 2020 by Admin


Since the onset of the pandemic, Atria communities have been following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and diligently taking precautions to make resident safety a priority – something that Atria has always done, no matter the circumstance. We quickly galvanized resources and enacted plans to keep residents safe and engaged during quarantine. This began with a nationwide testing program and a collaboration with Mayo Clinic Laboratories as the cornerstone to our COVID-19 safety strategy. Atria’s dedication to protecting residents’ well-being continues with its enrollment in the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Program.

Additional partnerships have also been developed to ensure all residents and staff will receive the vaccination as quickly and safely as possible. This is a crucial development as we look toward a safe and effective vaccine that allows residents and staff to get back to “normal” in 2021.

 Atria residents and staff among the first to be vaccinated

In addition to the nation’s healthcare workers, advisors to the CDC recommended that residents and employees of long-term care facilities (which includes assisted living) be the first to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC’s vaccine schedule will be determined as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) works through Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) and states finalize their individual distribution plans. Bear in mind that each state controls their own vaccine deployment plan and plans vary from state to state.

Every Atria community in the United States is enrolled in the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Program, making us part of the first phase of priority access in the nation. We are optimistic that residents and staff could start receiving vaccinations as soon as late December.

A partnership that makes it quick and easy

Thanks to Atria’s partnership with CVS Health, residents and staff will be able to receive the first dose of the vaccine in their own communities. Once the COVID-19 vaccine is available, plans are already in place to ensure it is distributed to Atria communities as safely and quickly as possible. The vaccine will be administered by CVS in a way similar to the flu shot clinics conducted in our communities earlier in the fall.

Keeping our guard up

While Atria is ready for a successful roll out of the vaccine, all safety protocols will continue to be observed until all residents and staff have received the required vaccine doses. Until that time, Atria will continue to optimize the quality of life for residents by providing delicious meals and opportunities for exercise and daily engagement – with well-being and safety always top of mind.

To see how Atria is creating the safest possible environment for residents and staff, visit AtriaSafeTogether.com.

 

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: COVID-19, Wit & Wisdom

8-28 Blog

Staying safely connected in a world with COVID-19


Posted on August 28, 2020 by Admin


COVID-19 has forced all of us to rethink how we interact with the world and each other. Still, staying connected remains vital to our well-being.

At Atria Senior Living, we believe people belong together. By making adjustments to Atria’s Engage Life® events program, team members continue to offer residents creative new ways to learn, engage and connect, safely.

Connecting across generations

Through a phone-based “reflecting and sharing” program, residents are sharing their unique wisdom with younger generations. Each week, they reflect on a current topic affecting society then share their collective insights over the phone.

In one recent example, residents who worked as teachers offered advice to parents teaching their children at home and professional teachers instructing students online during the pandemic. Soon, residents will reflect on the importance of voting and why younger generations should be encouraged to exercise their right in the upcoming elections.

A second wisdom-sharing program coming soon is a phone pal partnership with the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), where high-achieving students will be matched with older adults who have professional experience in their fields of interest.

These partnerships present valuable opportunities for diverse generations to connect from a distance over similar interests and benefit from each other’s perspectives.

Innovating to engage

At the onset of the pandemic, Atria communities were equipped with conferencing phone lines. The ability to dial in from the safety of their apartments has enabled residents to join neighbors for group sing-alongs, book clubs, art appreciation programs, word games, lectures and Broadway performances, to name a few. Many communities provide handouts to serve as visual aids.

Since residents aren’t gathering for group classes and events, Atria is bringing those experiences to them. Doorway and mobile cart events have inspired endless creativity. Staff have organized guided “paint and sip” workshops, container gardening and travel adventures via video, food samples and music. The popular Positivi-Tea program encourages residents to explore topics in the field of positive psychology while they sip a nice cup of tea.

Staying strong

With many gyms closed and exercise classes canceled, it’s no secret staying fit has been a challenge for many of us.

While Atria staff offer regular hallway workouts and outdoor walks at communities where local and state regulations permit, many will soon launch a new fitness challenge to further motivate residents. Small clusters of communities will compete against other groups to achieve their exercise goals and earn rewards and recognition.

“Exercise has been the most important, and probably the hardest, program to develop overall,” said Atria’s Vice President of Resident Engagement, Christy Phillips. “We’ve gotten really creative with helping residents maintain their physical strength.”

Celebrating resilience

Speaking of strength, Atria residents have persevered through world wars, economic depressions and personal challenges. They have so much to teach others and their resilience is a tool Catherine Schneider, Atria’s Director of Resident Well-Being Curriculum, hopes residents are willing to share.

“We’ve developed a program to collect the wisdom behind the ways residents have learned to cope during difficult times,” said Schneider. “After all, we’re going through this together. It’s an opportunity to share stories and learn from each other.”

 

To learn more about how Atria Senior Living is helping residents and families stay connected, visit AtriaSafeTogether.com.


Category: Active Aging, Community, COVID-19, Seniors and Technology, Wit & Wisdom

Atria families are finding reassurance in an uncertain world


Posted on July 24, 2020 by Admin


During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve all had to rethink the way we live, work and keep our families safe.

At Atria Senior Living, we are committed to protecting residents’ health and safety while maintaining the connection and engagement so vital to their well-being. Our 14,000-plus employees are extensively trained on how to respond in any circumstance, whether it’s a hurricane, flood, wildfire or a pandemic.

Through every challenge over the years, we’ve emerged smarter and better situated to continue serving residents safely while offering them meaningful opportunities to lead vibrant, connected lives.

We continue to be grateful for the families who have put their trust in us. Here’s what a few of them had to say.

___________________________________

 

Atria Daly City

Daly City, California

 

“I was recommended two years ago by a friend to bring my brother to Atria Daly City. This was the best decision I made on his behalf for myself and my family. What a beautiful community. The Executive Director, Cecilia, and Chef Walter really form a dynamic duo along with their ever-caring staff who are  tender, polite and very alert.

The real proof came when COVID-19 hit California and subsequently all care facilities. What a crew! All of them, with no one exempted, went above and beyond their abilities to help the vulnerable residents during this difficult time.

All of them, with no one exempted, went above and beyond their abilities to help the vulnerable residents during this difficult time.

Their dedicated service continues today and will for years to come. I was amazed to learn the number of hours each and every one of them worked at the community, sacrificing their personal lives, their families, their own time. Also, before the pandemic hit, the community was thriving socially with all the activities and field trips that made them feel good and like members of a big family.

I recommend Atria to anyone who wants their older loved ones to live in a safe, caring and loving environment. The economics of it are also great. The price is right, as they say, and Chef Walter will never disappoint you! You will be in a very good place!”

–Philip

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Atria Briarcliff Manor                                                                  

Briarcliff Manor, New York

 

"Atria Briarcliff Manor is exactly the community where I would want my parent(s) to live, especially during this challenging time. The sincerity, camaraderie and professionalism of the entire staff, the warmth and cleanliness of the campus and residence is incredible and outstanding! The measures taken to ensure all of the residents and staff are safe and well cared for is impressive and reassuring. Anyone who visits or has a loved one residing at Atria Briarcliff Manor can attest to the warmth and family the staff has created in this wonderful senior living community. Hats off to the Atria Briarcliff Manor team for its tireless efforts to generate creative programs and ways to keep the community members feeling connected to their loved ones and each other while respecting and abiding by social distancing protocols. #awesome!!! Well done Atria!”

–Deborah

___________________________________

 

Atria Willow Park

Tyler, Texas

 

"I have been a resident of Atria for 12 years in May. When people ask me how I like it, I tell them it’s the best place to be.

The personnel since I have been here have been superb. But what I want to talk about is the way they have been in this present crisis. They are the best. There are just no adequate adjectives to tell you how excellently they have managed their sharing of duties during this time and are always pleasant. They have all pitched in and are always accommodating and kind and pleasant.   

There are just no adequate adjectives to tell you how excellently they have managed their sharing of duties during this time and are always pleasant.

I want to apologize for my writing. I’m 98 years old, and I think I’m doing pretty good to be able to write at all even if it does slant up the page. That shouldn’t detract from my message. Atria personnel are special. They are just extra special. Thank you for providing the type of management that encourages this type of service and employees.”

Sincerely,

Mary 

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Atria Tarzana

Tarzana, California

 

“Finding an assisted living community for a parent can be such a challenging and difficult decision, especially these days. Today, I was able to take a virtual tour of Atria Tarzana with Rafi and I was just blown away. He was not only informative, but his personal attention made my mom and me feel very comfortable.

He was not only informative, but his personal attention made my mom and me feel very comfortable.

Staff members also joined the tour to say hello. We felt extremely welcomed. All of our main concerns were answered in detail, from safety and health matters to everyday living. Thank you, Rafi! My mother is definitely looking forward to making Atria her new home.”

–Maggie

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Atria Crossroads Place

Waterford, Connecticut

 

“My father has been at Atria Crossroads Place for a little over two years now. We have been very happy with the service and accommodations. The building is very clean, the food is very good, and the staff is very kind and helpful. In the past few months amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Atria Crossroads Place has been outstanding in their approach to keeping residents safe and healthy. I highly recommend Atria. You will be hard-pressed to find a finer community in the state.”

–D.S.

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To learn more about how Atria Senior Living is helping residents and their families stay connected, visit AtriaSafeTogether.com.


Category: Community, COVID-19, Wit & Wisdom

As the world is reopening, so are we – carefully


Posted on July 13, 2020 by Admin


At Atria Senior Living, our number one priority is the health and well-being of residents and staff. That’s why we’ve worked hard to devise a comprehensive, data-based plan to reopen communities, and bring people together again, safely.

Laying the foundation

In late April – with full quarantine in effect – we began the critical first step of testing to identify asymptomatic cases and reduce the risk of infection for residents and staff. While testing remained scarce in many parts of the country, Atria had already built a relationship with Mayo Clinic Laboratories to test 13,000 staff and third-party vendors.

By the end of June – through Atria’s own testing, government-mandated testing and one-off physician-driven testing – we had completed nearly 40,000 tests for residents and staff at more than 200 communities with differing infection rates and local regulations.

This combination of quarantine, testing, digital contact tracing and continued safety protocols, such as PPE usage, temperature checks and symptom screenings, helped build a solid foundation for reopening.

 

 

Opening the door

As a large organization operating across North America, with varying state and local guidelines, easing quarantine could only happen gradually.

In early June, we designated pilot communities that would experience the first steps. The list included all locations without on-site exposure in 28 days, including more than 100 communities with no exposure before that date.

While in-apartment dining remained in place, pilot communities began offering social-distanced dining and family drive-up visits. Wearing masks, residents in many communities could also leave their apartments and, in some cases, gather in groups of five or fewer.

By July 2, virtually all communities had eased full quarantine and entered what we call our COVID-19 Watch phase.

 

 

Looking ahead

Today, Atria communities are operating as normally as possible in a world still at risk of COVID-19. Residents are enjoying more opportunities to connect with neighbors outside of their apartments, and many are delighted to welcome family inside their apartments – wearing masks and gloves, and practicing hand hygiene in all cases.

We all want community life to resume. By continuing to test, contact trace and follow proper safety protocols, we’re committed to combating COVID-19 while maintaining the connection and engagement that is so vital to our well-being.

 

To learn more about how Atria Senior Living is helping residents and their families stay connected, visit AtriaSafeTogether.com.

 


Category: COVID-19

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