Wit and Wisdom Blog for Atria Senior Living

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a new view on growing older

What older adults can do to avoid vaccine scams

Posted on January 15, 2021 by Ajla Bedzetovic

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 scams are so new that cases are only 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, Our Team, Wit & Wisdom

Reflecting on 2020 and COVID-19

Posted on December 31, 2020 by Jesse Hazel

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, butthanks to the work and resilience ofAtria’sdedicated staff, residents and families, 2020 has also had its triumphs. As the year comes toa close, Atria is reflectingon the accomplishments achieved over the last year.

Fromthe inventive and delightful programs that keep residents engaged tothe COVID-19 testing strategies that keep residents and staff protected, #TeamAtria is grateful for a year that reinforcedwhat it means to be a team, community and family – no matter the circumstance.

Staying agile

Through hurricanes, wildfires, flu seasons and now a pandemic, agility and preparednesshave been key in helping Atria createenvironments 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 Atriacommunities 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 inearly affected areas.

Astesting kits werebeing deployed to Atria communities, an internal team began tracking the spread of the virus behind the scenes.

From business analytics toviruspenetration 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,” saidKyle Whittinghill, Director of Corporate Finance and Analytics at Atria. “This allowed us tounderstand what the risk levels were andhow to manage and mitigate those risks.”

That data has impacted every level ofthe business, allowing community and corporate leaders toswiftly escalate or deescalate safety protocolsand procedures accordingly.

“Wewere able toimplementscreening questions, PPE and infection controlmeasureswellahead oflocal 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 andlivestreams. 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, communitiescontinued to look for new ways to keep residentsengaged.

“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

Atria “sleeves up” for the first COVID-19 vaccines

Posted on December 21, 2020 by Jesse Hazel

Hugging grandchildren. Bunco parties. Laughing with good friends. These are just a few of the heartfelt reasons Atria residents gave for “sleeving up” today as they were among the first in the country to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

The first round of vaccines was administered today at Atria Springdale and will continue at Atria St. Matthews, Atria Stony Brook, Atria Elizabethtown and Atria Highland Crossing through the end of the month of December.

This is a critical early milestone in the “Sleeve Up Atria” campaign to vaccinate more than 20,000 residents and almost 12,000 employees across 26 U.S. states and seven Canadian provinces, as soon as vaccines are made available to their communities.

Atria Senior Living CEO John A. Moore also rolled up his sleeve for the vaccine today. “I knew some people felt a little nervous about getting vaccinated, so I wanted to lead the way by setting a good example,” said Moore. “We’ve been waiting for this day ever since the promise of a vaccine became a reality. I’m so proud of our residents and employees across the U.S. and Canada who have done so much during the COVID-19 pandemic to protect our communities and each other.”

When asked if she was excited to get her vaccine today, Atria resident Engolfia “Georgia” Christoff enthusiastically replied, “You better believe it! I missed Thanksgiving with my family this year and they are just up the street. I’m looking forward to three weeks from now when I get to be with them again.”

While residents are understandably eager to resume activities that they enjoyed before COVID-19 hit, Atria will continue to follow safety protocols and conduct ongoing testing with support from Mayo Clinic Laboratories as we continue to administer the vaccine.

“Atria’s stringent protocols and testing have served us well,” said Moore, “but it’s the vaccine that we hope will be the knockout punch we need to give this disease. We can’t wait for the vaccine to come to every single one of our communities so that we can continue to do all we can to enable our residents to live their best lives, regardless of the circumstances.”

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: Caregiver Support, Community, COVID-19, Our Team

A tribute to Chef Haller

Posted on November 20, 2020 by Jesse Hazel

Classically trained in Switzerland, experienced in running multiple kitchens from Montreal to Manhattan and an executive chef for five U.S. presidents from 1966-1987, Chef Henry Haller was one of the most successful culinary figures of his generation. He passed away recently, leaving behind a legacy of high standards and a mentor-oriented approach to his craft.

Chef Haller consulted with Atria on an annual basis, sharing his recipes and experience with our culinary team. “He was super-humble. He was very professional and had a wonderful sense of humor,” said Chad Welch, Atria’s Executive Chief of Culinary Operations, who worked alongside Chef Haller.

“He was an amazing chef and person. We appreciate him sharing his knowledge with us at every level of the culinary team.”

Category: Our Team, Wit & Wisdom

Keeping things vibrant at Atria at Villages of Windsor

Posted on November 6, 2020 by Jesse Hazel

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the residents of Atria at Villages of Windsor in Lake Worth, Florida, dined together in restaurants buzzing with conversation, danced around the pool, threw elaborate holiday parties and volunteered to read to students at local schools. Since the stringent safety protocols put into place in Marchthe community has found new ways to keep things vibrant while staying safe and socially distanced. 

To wow and dazzle 

“We work where our residents live.” This insight from Atria at Villages of Windsor’s Executive Director Judy Rotenberg, drives her service philosophy to wow and dazzle those we serve.” To achieve that goalRotenberg and her team have worked extra hard to create programs and events that everyone can do safely, no matter the circumstances. 

One solution has been to use the community’s internal digital channel that every resident can access from a smart TV or computer in their apartments. This channel offers opportunities for residents to tune into operas, plays and comedy performancesjoin fitness classes, or listen to experts speak on a variety of topicsto name a few.  

Other ways the staff has connected with residents include dropping by their apartments with “COVID Care Packages” – decorated bags with treats, hand sanitizer and other items – and inviting everyone to dress up for Jersey Day, the first day of the NFL season. To help residents stay active safely, an on-site physical therapy team hosts balcony workouts to offer more chances for everyone to enjoy the Florida sunshine.

As Kristin Brown, the Assistant Executive Director, said: “Our number one priority is to help residents feel safe and connected.”

Everyone has a voice 

Atria at Villages of Windsor is also using their internal digital TV channel to facilitate dialog between residents and directors. Before the COVID-19 pandemicthe community hosted town halls where residents could ask questions and share ideas. Now the staff sends out questionnaires to residents to gather their thoughts on how to make the community better. Rotenberg records the directors answering questions and plays those videos back to the community. “We’ve always prioritized open communication, and that’s especially true during the pandemic,” Rotenberg said. 

Bud Nadler, Atria at Villages of Windsor’s Resident Council President, agreed with Rotenberg. “The pandemic has thrown a monkey wrench into our lifestyle,” he said. “But I feel that my visits in the hallways as I encounter various other residents have helped make everyone understand what we’re going through as a group here at Atria.” 

Bud’s wife Lois addedI think he’s doing a splendid job.” 

Bud continued, “Thankfully, between what residents are doing, and the communication from the staff and our Executive Directorcoming forward with information that’s crucial to our lifestyle, we’ve felt quite reassured these days.”  


Learn more about how Atria Senior Living is helping residents stay safe, connected and engaged during the COVID-19 pandemic at AtriaSafeTogether.com. 

Category: Our Team, Wit & Wisdom

Atria employee earns a hero’s recognition

Posted on November 4, 2020 by Jesse Hazel

“At that moment when they announced my name, I wanted to cry. It means a lot.”

Yesenia Molina came to the United States from El Salvador when she was 13 years old, and although much has changed over time, her desire to care for others has not. She began her career in senior living more than 20 years ago as a caregiver, and since then, has been promoted numerous times. Yesenia now serves as the Life Guidance Director at Atria Westchase and was recently honored with the Hero Award for Memory Care by the Texas Assisted Living Association (TALA).

Diana Martinez, President & CEO of TALA, said, “Yesenia’s dedication to her residents is undeniable. I am so happy we got the chance to celebrate what she brings to assisted living and to the residents she serves.”

Going the extra mile

One of Yesenia’s most notable contributions is her ability to help residents transition smoothly to living in the memory care neighborhood. Her desire to help the residents acclimate to their new surroundings is evident in that she consistently prioritizes working with their family members and doctors to ensure a positive experience for everyone.

In early March, Atria Westchase implemented infectious disease protocols to protect residents and staff members from COVID-19. Not only did Yesenia perform safety practices that included social distancing, hand sanitizing and following extensive PPE protocols, she also ensured that residents could continue engaging as safely as possible in group gatherings.

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Yesenia continues to go the extra mile for the residents at Atria Westchase – both inspiring and supporting staff members to do the same. “I started seting up FaceTime calls with our memory care residents and their families.” One of her goals is to keep the residents connected with the community they belong to, as well as with those they love outside of the community.

“Yesenia never asks of anybody something that she isn’t willing to do herself."

She attributes much of her commitment and dedication to her fellow employees. When asked about Yesenia, Justin Schill, Executive Director at Atria Westchase, said, “Yesenia never asks someone to do something that she isn’t willing to do herself. The responsibility she has to advocate for our residents and to give them excellent care is one of the many qualities that makes her an extraordinary person. She expertly builds good relationships with our residents and their families because she knows it’s all about their well-being.”


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

Category: Our Team, Wit & Wisdom

Abby Figueroa is on the move

Posted on October 22, 2020 by Jesse Hazel

Atria supports a culture where residents are empowered to stay active, set goals and find purpose – and where employees are encouraged to grow personally and professionally. Just ask Atria’s Senior Vice President of Functional Operations, Abby Figueroa. Abby has charted a meteoric course on her career path, in large part because her commitment to serving residents has uncovered talents she never knew she had. 

On the move 

Originally from New Mexico, Abby moved to Louisville, Kentucky, in 2007 to start her career as a Staff Accountant at Atria’s Support Center. That role dovetailed well with her skillset. “I’m an introvert, so community accounting was a good fit for me,” Abby said. “At the Support Center, you’re there to support the communities, so it provided an opportunity to take in the scope of the company from a bird’s-eye view.” 

 Two years later, Abby saw that a Community Business Director position was open at Atria Vista del Rio in her home state, and she decided to apply. To this dayshe still considers that role one of the most eye-opening experiences of her life. In her six years there, Abby grew from a numbers-oriented specialist into a leader adept at everything from helping the community staff sign up for benefits to assisting residents with setting up their Wi-Fi and finding their grandkids’ addresses when sending out valentines. 

 “I felt like I was making a difference in the big things and the small things,” Abby said. “It’s like I came alive personally.” 

 “This iwhy love what I’m doing 

After subsequent promotions to regional leadership positions, her skill and experience during the COVID-19 pandemic led to her current role leading the community operations that help keep residents and staff safe. In this position, Abby regularly communicates protocols out to the field so everyone is on the same page. 

 Abby attributes her success to being empowered by Atria to blend the complementary sides of her interests – the detail and process side, and the human side of supporting residents, their families and her fellow employees.  

She loves the energy of walking into an Atria community or giving prospective residents and families tour for the first time. She is inspired by residents who were trailblazing women in their respective fields and cleared the path for Abby to be a leader todayShe’s moved when she witnesses residents rediscovering their talents and discovering new purposes. 

 To me, the most amazing stories at Atria are how community life helps residents really blossomThey take up painting or volunteering. They’re able to resume having relationship with their daughter as their daughter again, not as their caregiver,” Abby said. “It’s exciting to see. Those are the moments when you’re like, ‘This is cool. This is why I love what I’m doing.’” 


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

Category: Our Team, Wit & Wisdom

Gratitude for Team Atria

Posted on October 9, 2020 by Jesse Hazel

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

Recognizing employees who step up

Posted on October 2, 2020 by Jesse Hazel

COVID-19 has introduced unprecedented challenges to nearly every aspect of life. We're proud of all the ways Team Atria has gone "Above and Beyond" to serve residents thoughtfully in 2020.

While residents and families sent letters, notes and emails expressing their thanks for staff members, from June to August, Atria employees nominated each other in a peer-to-peer program meant to recognize the team’s contributions. Known as the Above and Beyond awards, these accolades are presented to employees who lifted the spirits of residents and colleagues alike.

A team effort

Here’s how the process works: staff members at each Atria community in the United States and Canada fill out nominations on behalf of their coworkers. Some of the workplace contributions that qualify employees for nomination include creating special moments in a resident’s day, maintaining a positive attitude and innovating resident activities.

After that, a volunteer committee of their peers reviews those nominations. In June, the committee received nearly 800; in July, that number rose to 1,400. Let’s meet a few of the winners.

Everyday heroes

There’s Janine at Atria Hertlin Place in New York, who spends her personal time baking sugar-free desserts for diabetic residents.


Shavonna, an employee at Atria Tinton Falls in New Jersey, received the appreciation of a resident’s family for making sure the resident's fridge was always stocked with her favorite beverage during quarantine.


At Atria La Jolla in San Diego, Engage Life Program Instructor Lily set up a distance-learning history class with a resident who survived the Holocaust. The students have remained in contact with the resident since then, first as pen pals and, later, as members of the resident’s 97th birthday party parade, arranged by Lily and also attended by the teacher and the resident’s family.

Lily (pictured right) with her weekly stock market group.


The Atria family is thankful for the recipients of the Above and Beyond awards as well as every staff member who works to ensure residents are safe during these times. We couldn’t be prouder of Team Atria.

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

Category: Our Team, Wit & Wisdom

Caring when it matters most

Posted on September 3, 2020 by Jesse Hazel

At Atria Senior Living, we take pride in hiring employees who show their dedication and work ethic even in the most difficult times. Here, we shine a light on Roxan Mitchell-Powell, a housekeeper at Atria Willow Wood in Fort Lauderdale, FL, who recently received the Employee of the Year award from the Florida Senior Living Association (FSLA).

“I am honored, and a little surprised, to receive this award,” Roxan said. “I enjoy taking care of our residents and it comes natural to me.”

An extremely warm heart

The FSLA is an organization that represents companies operating professionally managed senior living communities. According to their guidelines, a nominee for the Employee of the Year award must "treat residents with dignity and respect, provide outstanding customer service, demonstrate extraordinary dedication, and contribute to the work environment personally and professionally." If you ask Robin Miller, Assistant Executive Director at Atria Willow Wood, all those qualities describe Roxan perfectly.

“She has an extremely warm heart,” said Miller. “She cares about her job. She is a team leader. She works well with her peers. She likes to take the time to get to know the residents’ stories. Nominating Roxan was like applying for a grant you know is worthwhile – the words just easily came out.”

Stepping up

One reason Miller admires Roxan is her performance when Atria communities first implemented COVID-19 protocols. Roxan volunteered to go beyond her housekeeping duties to make sure residents were being properly cared for while quarantined in their apartments. As a certified nursing assistant, she checked their temperatures, delivered meals she knew they would enjoy, and treated them with warmth and sensitivity to keep them from feeling isolated.

The FSLA presented Roxan with the Employee of the Year award on July 30 via their 2020 Senior Living Virtual Conference. About 50 Atria Willow Wood employees – including the honoree herself – gathered in the community’s dining room to watch the ceremony on a large-screen TV – wearing appropriate PPE and social distancing, of course. “It was a great way of bringing the staff together and taking a moment to celebrate Roxan’s success among her peers,” Miller said.

Roxan has worked at Atria Willow Wood for five years. In 2019, she was a recipient of Atria’s Exceptional Service Award, an honor given to just 65 outstanding employees nationwide twice a year. Despite the recognition she has received, Roxan remains self-effacing. “I have great team members. I was surprised when they said I was nominated for the award because there were so many of us working during that time, so I was surprised I was elected,” Roxan said. “I wasn’t working to get an award – I just love my job.”

Learn more about how Atria is helping residents stay safe, connected and engaged during the COVID-19 pandemic at AtriaSafeTogether.com.

Category: Community, Our Team, Wit & Wisdom