Wit and Wisdom Blog for Atria Senior Living

      Wit and Wisdom      

a new view on growing older

Three ways that senior living communities benefit older adults


Posted on June 2, 2021 by Admin


At a certain point, older adults often have the conversation with their adult children about whether it makes more sense for them to remain in their homes or to join a senior living community. The decision is a crucial one. Considering the emerging research on the importance of social and emotional support from others, becoming part of a community that cares about you can be better for your health and well-being than living in your home. Here are just a few reasons why.  

They’re convenient 

Residents who move into senior living communities often remark that they feel relief after downsizing and moving out of their homes, in large part because being a homeowner means shouldering the responsibilities of mowing the lawn, fixing the gate latch whenever it breaks or calling the plumber when the sink clogs. At a senior living community, the staff does all that work for you, so you can spend your day doing the things you love. Plus, the amenities that might span a town or neighborhood – gyms, movie theaters, patios, pubs, salons – are all located within your new community, and the convenience of that proximity would make anyone feel at home. 

They offer opportunities to learn and grow 

On the subject of convenience: Not only are the amenities nearby – so are other residents. Moving into a new community means finding new opportunities to make friends. People who have lived in their home for decades sometimes realize one day that they don’t know anyone on the street, or they stopped popping by neighbors’ houses years ago. Life at a high-quality senior living community should include a calendar of guest lectures, exercise programs, painting classes and other chances to meet residents who live down the hall or across the courtyard. Those workshops and series foster chances to seek connections with other people, and rediscover interests such as intellectual topics, athletics or other subjects that residents are passionate about. 

They let families be families again 

Older adults also tend to find that when they move into a senior living community, any strain in their family relationships eases up, because the staff provides the care that was previously done by their adult children when they lived at home. Look for a quality of care at a senior living community that empowers older adults to enjoy a high quality of life – which includes reconnecting with their children as children, rather than as caregivers. 

Home means security, comfort and safety. That’s why Atria Senior Living offers residents the familiarity and peace of mind of home with the added benefit of the fun and vibrancy of a built-in community. As we like to say here: People belong together. 

 

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

“Be thankful for every day”


Posted on May 15, 2021 by Admin


Atria is home to the world’s wisest people, and we’re always eager to hear the stories of those in the Atria family. One such story that continues to encourage us comes from Paula resident at Atria Westminster in Colorado who survived warfaredisplacement and other hardships – and is now an inspiration to everyone around him. 

From Yugoslavia to Austria 

Paul was born in 1929 in Yugoslavia. He had one younger sister and two older brothers, and he described his younger self as a soccer player, a hard worker and a devoted youth leader in his church. When Paul was 12 years old, Germany invaded Yugoslavia. In less than two weeks, Germany had defeated the Yugoslavian army, and the country was under Nazi control. 

Not long thereafter, Paul and his family were taken to a concentration camp. He endured horrors for two years until his family escaped and made their way to Hungary. Once again, they were captured and put in a prison in Budapest, but the Hungarian government gave them a two-week pass to leave the country, and they made their way to Austria – traveling in train boxcars until they arrived at a refugee camp in Vienna. 

From Austria to Chicago

Paul and his family spent several months in the refugee campwith the exception of his brother Jacob, who had been taken to a separate campJacob was released before the rest of Paul’s family, and he started to make a life for himself in Austria. After Paul and his family left the camp, they worked for a local farm owner through the harvesting season before making their way to Jacob’s one-bedroom apartment, where they all stayed. 

During these years as the war was ending, Paul fell in love with the mountains, learned the trade of cabinetmaking and met his future wife, HildaEventually, a family member sponsored them to come to the United States, and after the birth of their son, Paul and Hilda moved to Chicago. 

From Chicago to Colorado

Paul mastered his trade as a cabinetmaker, and he and Hilda had another child, this time a daughter. After spending 14 years in Chicago, the family moved to Colorado. Paul loved the mountains ever since he lived in Austria, and after moving to Colorado, he’s never left.

Today, Paul loves watching soccer and baseball – he’s a huge Colorado Rockies fan – and his favorite place on earth is Rocky Mountain National Park. He and his family spend a lot of their free time hiking and camping, and the outdoors invigorates him 

He talks openly about his war stories and even gave a presentation to his church, which was filmed and later presented to his friends and neighbors at Atria Westminster, with Paul answering questions afterward. 

“Paul always thinks of others,” Jessica Romito, the Engage Life Director at Atria Westminster, said. “He believes in paying forward the kindness and compassion that was shown to him by the people who helped his family escape the concentration camp and make their way to Vienna.” 

Paul’s experiences as a concentration camp survivor taught him to never give up.  

“There is always something worth pushing forward for,” he said. “You should live with what you have been given and be thankful for every day on this planet.”

 

To read more stories about Atria residents, visit AtriaSeniorLiving.com/Wit-And-Wisdom.


Category: Community, Wit & Wisdom

Caring for the world’s wisest people


Posted on May 3, 2021 by Admin


Atria Senior Living’s care services are backed by our industry-leading quality standards. In our communities that offer care services, the Resident Services Director – who is also a licensed nurse – assesses each resident’s physical, emotional and functional needs prior to move-in, and then on an as-needed basis following that initial care plan.

How assessments work

Because the well-being of residents is our top priority, we pride ourselves on the rigor with which we conduct assessments. Here’s how the process works:

  • Prior to a new resident moving into Atria, a licensed nurse will visit the resident to review medications and develop an essential drug list.
  • A physician will review the assessment before it’s shared with the resident and his or her family. Atria will conduct another assessment the day the new resident moves in, and add it into our system to help caregivers organize their days and meet residents’ needs.
  • Following those initial assessments, Atria will conduct further assessments to determine whether a decrease or increase in care services is needed.

Discreet care is available 24 hours a day, and services generally fall into these three categories: personal care (bathing, grooming, getting dressed and safety checks); medication assistance (reminders, consultations with physicians and pharmacies and ongoing reviews with a nurse); and incontinent management (daytime and overnight assistance).

Some Atria communities also offer memory care, geared toward older adults experiencing the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. Memory care neighborhoods are located in thoughtfully designed, secure spaces within a community.

Care and Engage Life®

The Engage Life department adds another layer of support to the licensed nurses and caregivers within an Atria community.

“Engage Life and care and social work – they’re all interlocked,” Beth Levi, Engage Life Director at Atria Forest Hills, said. “In my role, I have the opportunity to monitor residents through the activities they’re doing. I see them on a daily basis. So if I notice a change in condition, I can coordinate with the care team.”

Engage Life Directors create programs and workshops that enhance residents’ lives through social connection and lifelong learning, which is one reason Levi is looped into the part of the assessment process for new or prospective residents: She learns about a resident’s care needs and assistance levels, and then personalizes the community events calendar so that there are plenty of opportunities tailored to each individual.

“When a new resident moves in, I take all the programs we offer, and then I go over it with them,” Levi said. “They pick out what they like and we make a personalized schedule, so when they move in, it’s all set in their minds – ‘This is what I’m going to be doing.’ The calendar is adaptable and changeable, and based upon their interests and needs.”

The Atria advantage

“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, shared. “We have stringent guidelines. We have checks and balances to make sure residents’ needs are being fulfilled.”

Those stringent guidelines are the result of being so attentive to residents’ well-being. When it comes to a community’s Resident Services Director, Atria only hires nurses with a clinical skill set and management experience who are also familiar with working with older adults. That attention to detail required in their jobs helps give nurses and caregivers the structure necessary to provide the best care for the world’s wisest people.

 

Discover how empowering the right care can be at Atria Senior Living at ExploreAtriaCare.com.


Category: Active Aging, Caregiver Support, Community, Dementia & Memory Care, Our Team, Wit & Wisdom

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

Home is where the anchor drops


Posted on April 6, 2021 by Admin


St. Catharines, Ontario, about 12 miles northwest of Niagara Falls isn’t exactly known for its abundance of tropical plants, but that hasn’t stopped Gloria – an Atria resident at Anchor Pointe – from surrounding herself with flowers that might better thrive in Costa Rica than Canada.

Gloria has decorated her apartment with philodendrons and coleus, dracaenas and peace lilies, a schefflera tree that’s now over six feet tall – just to name a few – plus a red ceramic pot filled with red anthuriums. “They look like hearts,” Gloria said. “That’s why I love them. And I have six lavender mist orchids with a variety of ferns combined in the pot. I love mixing my colors. It speaks to me.”

“Follow your mind and your heart”

Gloria grew up in Toronto, about an hour north of Anchor Pointe. Her father was a millwright and traveled for work – everywhere from Alaska to Newfoundland and Labrador – and while he was away, the family chores sussed out so that Gloria handled the gardening, a task she loved from the start.

“I would plant onions and vegetables and cultivate them in the backyard. It wasn’t ever work – it was always a joy, and I always brought little flowers inside for my mother,” she explained.

As an adult, Gloria took classes to become a floral designer. At the end of her courses, the instructor told her, “Out of this class of 22 people, you are going to be the one who has a business.”

He was right. In the summer of 1963, Gloria opened a floral shop. “We had the whole kaleidoscope of anything commercial, from your everyday carnations to orchids and everything in between,” Gloria said.

She ran the shop for 39 years, before closing it in 2002. She still tells her children (“and anyone who will listen”) to make sure to love what you do for a living and not let anybody interfere. In Gloria’s words: “Follow your mind and your heart and you’ll be very happy.”

Discovering Anchor Pointe

In the years after she closed her shop, Gloria explored other interests. She freelanced as an interior designer for a close friend (who liked her work so much that he hired her to landscape his backyard). She planned parties. And she watched her kids mature into adults and follow their minds and hearts – her daughter Carla, who started helping around at her shop when she was only three, now manages a floral shop and garden center; another daughter, Andrea, is now semi-retired but worked as a hairdresser; and her son, Michael, an electrical contractor who owns his business.

When Gloria was thinking about moving to a senior living residence, Michael researched some of the nearby communities and found Anchor Pointe first.

They had two other community visits scheduled, but when Gloria walked into Anchor Pointe and looked around – seeing the chandelier, the high ceiling and people dining in an atmosphere of ease and comfort – she said, “Michael, cancel the other appointments. I’ve just found home.”

Coming “home”

Had she known about Anchor Pointe before, Gloria said she would have moved in sooner.

“The grounds are lovely,” she stated. “The backyard has a garden, and beautiful trees. There’s a forest in the back. Having the plants around and the grounds being as they are gives you peace of mind. The place is so well taken care of.”

Gloria has replicated the beauty she finds outdoors at Anchor Pointe inside her apartment with the flowers she’s loved all her life.

“When I open my eyes to greet another day and I see their color, it invigorates me. I touch them. I water them. I clean them,” she said. “I’ve made many friends at Anchor Pointe, but the flowers are also my companions, and they remind me of that part of my life that was so important and vital, and I love with my heart and soul.”

When Gloria was moving into Anchor Pointe, Andrea brought her a momento that she picked up while on a vacation: a coffee mug with the words “Home is where the anchor drops.” To Gloria, it seemed so apropos that she’s now added decorations of anchors throughout her apartment – symbols of home mixed in amid her flowers. “I’ve found home and it’s certainly called ‘anchor,’” Gloria exclaimed. “It’s called Anchor Pointe.”

 

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


Category: Active Aging, Community, Wit & Wisdom

Introducing Atria Cary


Posted on April 1, 2021 by Admin


At Atria Senior Livingour mission is to serve the needs of older adults and their families. To that end, one of the ways we deliver on that mission is to develop new senior living communities. Our latest such development in the works: Atria Cary in none other than Cary, North Carolina. 

An idyllic setting in the Tar Heel State 

The township of Cary straddles the line between the Piedmont and the Coastal Plain regions of North Carolina, located roughly in the center of the state and between the Chapel Hill-Durham and Raleigh urban centers.  

“Atria Cary is in a beautiful setting  I mean, stunning,” Jamie Floyd, Vice President of Sales Training and New Developments and Acquisitions at Atria, said. “There are miles of trails and greenways that weave around Cary. The town’s not that big, so there’s a lot of walking space and a strong lean toward wellness and outdoor living and activity.” 

Scheduled to open in winter 2021-22, Atria Cary will be one of Atria Senior Living’s communities designed exclusively for older adults seeking independent living. Atria Cary was planned with the area’s trails and greenways in mind, so that residents can find abundant opportunities to get out, be in nature, ride a bike, go for a walk, and so on.  

Touring the grounds 

Atria Cary residents will enjoy amenities such as a wine bar, a movie theater, an art studio, a courtyard, a worship space and more. Being involved in the development, touring the grounds and poring over blueprints, Floyd can already envision what Atria Cary will look like. 

“There won’t be a bad view from any apartment,” she said. “You’ll look out at tall pines that sway in the breeze or the sunset and the amphitheater across the wayIt’s just amazing.” 

 

To learn more about Atria Cary, visit AtriaCary.com.


Category: Active Aging, Community, Our Team, Wit & Wisdom

Sometimes a short time is just right


Posted on March 25, 2021 by Admin


Diane worried about leaving the hospital. She’d been admitted, again, for losing consciousness due to a health issue that caused her blood oxygen level to drop.  

“It’s scary to wake up on the floor and not realize what happened,” she said. “Since I live alone, my family and I decided I should recuperate at Atria to make sure the new treatment plan from my doctor works. If not, somebody will be there to help.” 

Diane is staying at an Atria community while she recuperates. Short-term stays offer older people like her an excellent way to receive the care and support they need while recovering from an illness or surgery. Short-term stay guests enjoy a furnished, private apartment plus all the same services, amenities and social opportunities available to Atria residents.  

A short-term stay is also a great way to see what senior living is like.  

A better outcome

When an older person is discharged from a hospital or rehabilitation facility, their recovery depends largely on following doctors’ orders. Are they taking medications properly? Adhering to their new diet? Keeping follow-up appointments?  

For people who live alone, no longer drive and may possibly be dealing with a number of chronic health conditions, compliance is often a struggle. As a result, their recovery can suffer and they risk a setback, which could lead to another hospital or rehab stay. 

“A lot of short-term stay guests come to Atria due to health issues,” said Karen Devaney, Atria’s National Director of Care Management.  

“Short stays offer a way for people to recover with trained staff available around the clock to make sure they’re doing everything they need to do,” Devaney added. “We also provide their meals, housekeeping, drive them to appointments and offer opportunities to connect with others. 

“Short-term stay guests go through the same initial care assessment as residents before move-in. The care coordination they receive is also the same.”  

So, instead of juggling instructions from numerous healthcare providers, a short-term stay guest can focus on recovering while Atria manages the rest. Care coordination also makes sure everyone involved in a person’s well-being is on the same page – from doctors, nurses and physical therapists to caregivers and family members. 

A quick solution

A short-term stay often comes to the rescue for families facing a sudden or unexpected situation. An older family member may be discharged from the hospital or rehab sooner than anticipated and needs a place to recover. Families may discover an older relative’s living environment is no longer safe.  

“Our door is always open,” stated Pamela Filby, Atria’s Vice President of Sales. “When a person needs to move quickly, a short-term stay provides a furnished apartment on short notice, with support available around the clock.”

Knowing their older relative is safe and cared for gives family members time to more thoughtfully explore their options.  

A welcome change

When it comes to taking a break, short-term stays go both ways.  

Caregivers occasionally need time off to rest and recharge. Maybe they’re planning a vacation with their spouse and children and need to make arrangements for Mom. Since short-term stay guests enjoy the same services, dining options, amenities and social opportunities as residents, the break can be a welcome change for her, too.  

On the other hand, perhaps an older family member would like to enjoy a long visit with relatives in another state but doesn’t want to stay in a hotel or the family’s home.  

“We have regulars,” said Filby. “We jokingly call them ‘frequent fliers.’ It’s a nice way for them to get to know the community. 

“We even have couples who book short-term stays at communities in Florida, just to get away and have everything handled for them.”

A toe in the water

“Sometimes a family is reluctant to make a move and sell the home, even if they’ve started to realize their parent needs more care,” Filby explained. “We suggest families try a temporary stay while sorting things out.”  

For active older adults who don’t need daily support but are ready to downsize and let go of the cooking, cleaning and home maintenance, a short-term stay is an ideal way to try out senior living. After a short-term stay, many realize how much more fulfilling their lives can be when surrounded by daily opportunities to pursue new interests and hobbies in a community of friendly neighbors.  

“I hope more families take advantage of short-term stays because the benefits can be tremendous,” said Filby. 

 

If you or someone you know could benefit from a short-term stay at Atria, visit AtriaSeniorLiving.com/FindACommunity to discover the community nearest you.   

 


Category: Active Aging, Caregiver Support, Dementia & Memory Care, Wit & Wisdom

The right care empowers older people and reassures family


Posted on March 13, 2021 by Admin


At Atria, we believe the right amount of discreet personal care can help older people participate, grow and engage in what brings them purpose and joy.

We also believe in supporting families by doing everything we can to reassure them their parent is safe, well cared for and meaningfully connected to others.

Sheila and Rochelle

After her husband of 59 years passed away, Rochelle didn’t want to live alone. Friends suggested senior living, and her daughter, Sheila, traveled to North Carolina to help search for options. After touring Atria Southpoint Walk, they made their decision.

“It was wonderful,” Sheila said. “We knew within 10 minutes this was the place.”

A self-professed social butterfly, Rochelle settled right in. She loved the full calendar of events, friendly neighbors and chef-prepared meals. Sheila was relieved to see her mother gaining back the weight she’d lost after her father passed away.

Two years later, Rochelle took a fall. Sheila came to visit from Illinois while her mother recuperated. During treatment, doctors noticed a bit of memory loss and diagnosed Rochelle with mild dementia.

“Dementia doesn’t run in our family, so I didn’t know what to do,” said Sheila. “That’s when I started Googling.”

Sheila discovered Atria Glenview 10 minutes from her home in Illinois. Rochelle’s dementia was mild enough for her to move into assisted living, with specialized care available in the community’s Life Guidance® memory care neighborhood, if needed.

“It was much like the independent living community Mom came from so it was a good fit,” stated Sheila. “But knowing she had help taking her medications and staff to make sure she was eating was such a relief.”

Eventually, Rochelle’s dementia progressed, and she moved to Life Guidance. Sheila said the staff at Atria were there for both of them, every step of the way. The team not only provided compassionate, highly personalized care for her mother, they helped Sheila understand more about dementia, what to expect and ways to cope with her own feelings – through support groups and phone calls at least twice a week from Life Guidance Director Kelly Burnett.

“The regular contact eases my mind,” Sheila added. “I’ve been able to express my own fears and concerns without being dismissed. I can’t tell you how much that matters.

“When you think of all the changes that have happened with my mom, having Atria on our side to guide us has been invaluable. I don’t think people realize how deep the support can go at Atria.”

Jack and Richard

Jack gets around. The 89-year-old resident of Atria Oakridge in North Carolina knows every dining room server by name and most of his neighbors, too. Before COVID-19, he loved playing the piano during ice cream socials.

“Dad is really outgoing,” said his son, Richard. “He enjoys talking with people, and he’s sharp as a tack. He’s thoroughly enamored with Atria.”

Jack came to live at the community a few years ago after his wife moved into a skilled nursing facility. Richard lives 600 miles away and didn’t want to worry about his father living alone.

“I don’t think it would do him well to be on his own completely,” said Richard. “It’s not safe for someone his age.

“Since he’s been at Atria, I’m confident he’s in good hands. I never have to worry. That’s priceless to me.”

Holly and Martin

Martin moved to Atria Sugar Land in Texas four years ago. At 93, he often forgets to wear a face mask when leaving his apartment. Lucky for him, staff find creative ways to help; lately, they’ve been hanging a face mask on his walker with a friendly message reminding him to wear it.

“They’ve hired really great people,” said Martin’s daughter, Holly. “I work in education, so I know in any school system you can be in the worst building with great teachers or the best building with bad teachers. It’s all about the people.”

When searching for senior living, Holly and her father explored several communities to find one that was warm and welcoming. The day they toured Atria, Martin’s wife was too sick to join them.

“I told them we’d have one less for lunch, so the staff packed a meal to take with us for my stepmom,” continued Holly. “Little things like that speak volumes.”

Knowing her father has support around the clock gives Holly and her siblings comfort. Two years ago, Martin’s health issues required a hospital stay. After returning to Atria, he was weak and needed extra support. Staff escorted him to meals and checked on him several times throughout the night.

“Just knowing that attention was there lifted a big weight off our shoulders,” said Holly.

Regular communication also puts her mind at ease.

“That’s huge,” she said. “You want to know what’s going on and they keep us updated by email and phone.

“It’s clear to see they really care about residents. And I don’t have to worry.”

 

Discover how empowering the right care can be at Atria Senior Living at ExploreAtriaCare.com.


Category: Active Aging, Caregiver Support, Community, Wit & Wisdom

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

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