Wit and Wisdom Blog for Atria Senior Living

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Senior couple meeting for a senior care assessment.

Questions to ask during a senior care assessment

Posted on January 14, 2022 by Ellen Coyne

The safety and well-being of residents should be the top priority of any senior care community. As such, licensed nurses generally assess each resident’s physical, emotional and functional needs prior to move-in, and then on an as-needed basis following that initial care plan. 

Because these assessments often involve medical terms, and families may not have undergone this process before, it can be difficult to know which questions to ask. Read on for an overview of issues to address and answers to seek during a care assessment.  

How the care assessment process works 

Every senior living community conducts its care assessments differently, but this is a general overview of how the process works: 

  • Prior to a new resident moving into a senior living community, a licensed nurse will meet with the resident to identify the needs they may have, including medication assistance.
  • Generally, the senior living community will request a physician’s health evaluation of the resident. Those requirements vary from state to state, however, and it’s worth noting that in many senior living communities, a physician’s assessment is often distinct from the assessments that nurses or RSDs provide. 
  • Following move-in, ongoing assessments are conducted and updated based on a resident’s changing needs – as the staff observe and report them – as well as a resident’s requests for increased services. 

Questions to ask during a care assessment 

The issues that you’ll raise during the care assessment will vary considerably, depending on the services provided, the evaluation results, and the needs of the resident. Yet here are a few pertinent questions that might apply in most situations: 

  • What are the levels of care for seniors? 
  • What care is provided in assisted living communities? 
  • When is the right time to move from assisted living to memory care? 
  • How frequently do staff members provide discreet care to residents? 
  • How do you assess care needs for seniors, and what are the differences between them? 
  • Which services do you provide (personal care, medication assistance, incontinent management, and so on)? 
  • What type of medical documentation will residents need to provide prior to move-in (a physician’s report, a nursing assessment, a TB test, and so on)? 

Making the right decision for your family 

At Atria, our senior care services are backed by industry-leading quality standards. “The differentiator in Atria’s care is our preparation, our response, our protocols, our internal Quality Enhancement review process,” Joanna Mansfield, Atria’s Senior Vice President of Care and Life Guidance, said. “We have stringent guidelines. We have checks and balances to make sure residents’ needs are being fulfilled.” 

Atria only hires nurses with a clinical skill set and management experience who are also familiar with working with older adults. The attention to detail required in their jobs helps give them the structure necessary to provide the best senior care for the world’s wisest people. And if you have any questions about that care, we’re here to help. 

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

Man cleaning the snow off of his car

Winter Safety Tips for Seniors

Posted on December 17, 2021 by Admin

For many, winter is the happiest time of the year. Families gather for the holidays and friends celebrate as they usher in another new year. Winter can also be a difficult time for older adults. The onset of cold weather can create hazardous conditions outside, and people often prefer to stay home when it’s more pleasant indoors, which can lead to social isolation and depression. Here are a few tips on how to maintain senior safety this winter.  

Prepare for snow and ice 

Whenever snow or ice appear in the forecast, bundle up with gloves, a heavy coat, a scarf, or other warm clothes to protect you from the cold. Wear shoes with non-skid soles, take your car in for regular check-ups and make sure that your snowblower is working. Put ice scrapers in your cars and keep shovels and a bucket of rock salt or other de-icing salt at the ready. 

This last point is important, because an estimated 36 million older adults fall each year and slips and falls can cause serious injuries in older adults. So if you think it’s safe enough to go to outside but you’re still leery about driving, don’t hesitate to ask friends, family or neighbors to give you a ride or help with errands. 

Stock up on food and blankets 

When your front walk is crusted over with ice and you’ve heard news reports about accidents on the highways, it’s probably best to stay indoors. One measure you can take to ensure that you’re equipped to wait out the weather is to stockpile water bottles, a pantry of groceries (including non-perishable items like canned meats, vegetables and soups), and a week’s worth of medication. And be sure to keep warm blankets and extra layers of clothing in the house. 

Make sure your generator’s working 

Blizzards and snowstorms may sound picturesque, but winter weather can down power lines and snap off the electricity inside your home. To be prepared for a power outage, buy a portable generator, which should keep your electricity running even if you get cut off from your main power sources. Store a flashlight and extra batteries in an easy-to-reach place like a bedside table, buy a food thermometer, and assemble an emergency kit that might include extra cash, maps of your area and a first aid kit with relevant medications. 

Connect with others 

One aspect of senior safety that has more to do with mental rather than physical health is staying connected with others. People tend to stay indoors more often during the winter, but whenever you have the chance to catch up with friends and family, try to stay connected and engaged.  

Call or Zoom with children or grandchildren who are out of town. When the weather permits, go mall-walking with a friend, join a book club, or have dinner at a neighbor’s house. Take every opportunity to stay active and invigorated with other people’s company, because a healthy social life correlates with fewer feelings of negativity – which is a great way to ward off the winter blues. 

Keep safe this winter 

At Atria, we understand the importance of social connection for older adults especially during a season when it’s harder for older adults to go outside. That’s why Atria residents enjoy winter events such as movies, workshops, group outings and engaging holiday programs – while maintaining flu and COVID health and safety measures. Learn more about how we’re promoting winter wellness at Atria. 

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

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

Atria Senior Living resident painting at the community

How to reinvent yourself after retirement

Posted on December 9, 2021 by Admin

“After all that you’ve done in life, there’s still plenty of life to live. Each day, I continue to embrace life, pursue purpose and be open for adventure. It’s not always easy, but when I reflect over each experience, it’s always worth it.” 

The quote above is from Atria’s longtime friend Billie Jean King, a celebrated tennis champion and equal-rights activist. Billie Jean recently sat down with three Atria residents and asked them how they’re redefining aging, which you can learn more about in our Next Chapter video series. 

While their answers were as unique as each of their life stories, a common thread was woven between them. Each resident saw retirement as a both a time for reflection and for looking ahead – an opportunity to pursue new interests and reinvent themselves. Based on what they shared, and others have told us, we’ve compiled a few tips to help with your own reinvention. 

Escape the clutter 

By the time you’ve reached retirement, you’ve no doubt acquired a lot of “stuff.” While some possessions hold deep sentimental value, getting rid of – or donating – less cherished household items is often very freeing. Downsizing typically means less home maintenance, which frees up time for more joyful pursuits. In fact, many older adults have found that it actually changed their outlook on life and made them more open to new possibilities.

Go back to the future 

Reflecting on your past can help shape your future. What experiences brought you the most joy? Consider rekindling your passions for old hobbies or taking up a new one. Maybe there was something you’ve always wanted to try, like gardening, Thai Chi, playing the piano or painting, but never found the time to pursue. 

Whatever you decide on, remember that you don’t have to jump in feet first – baby steps are fine. Whether it’s talking about your interests with others, reading up about it, or acquiring any supplies that may be needed, your journey of reinvention starts with a single step.

Connect with others 

Wherever your interests take you, having others to share your time and experiences with fosters a renewed sense of self. Seek out volunteer opportunities, join a club, sign up for a community class or attend a lecture. And be sure to reach out to others – as the saying goes, a stranger is a friend you don’t yet know.  

Studies have shown that socialization improves well-being in older adults. That’s why Atria created the Engage Life® program to provide residents daily opportunities to express themselves creatively, connect with each other and nature, have fun, and stay fit with events that are tailored to meet their particular interests. 

Get the support you need 

At Atria, new chapters of life unfold each day, and living in a senior community can help you get the most out of retirement. Our vibrant communities offer engaging events and a welcoming environment where you can grow, stay active and connect with the world. With a wealth of experience and wisdom behind you and many opportunities ahead, we’ll help see that you’re well equipped to reinvent yourself for your next chapter.  

As Billie Jean King says, “Don’t be afraid to try something new or even start all over. I encourage you to go all in. Make this next chapter of your life better than the last.” 

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

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