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.
Category: Active Aging, Caregiver Support, Dementia & Memory Care, Wit & Wisdom
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
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
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.”
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
Posted on January 15, 2021 by Admin
The big news making international headlines is the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. As of January, about 11.9 million Americans have been vaccinated against the virus. While we can all be thankful for the speediness with which vaccinations have been developed and administered, the CDC, FBI and Department of Justice have sounded alarms about a concerning development: scammers using the rollout of vaccines to target and take advantage of seniors.
These vaccine scams are so new that cases are just beginning to emerge. Ben Taylor, the Legal Aid Society's Elder Justice fellow, shared a few tips to follow to avoid vaccine scams.
Be wary of unsolicited messages
The first two things to know about scammers are that they exploit people’s fears and revert to the same tactics over and over again. COVID-19-related scams involving fake PPE, cures and instant tests surfaced at the onset of the pandemic, and the same methods are repeating now with robocalls, phishing emails, text and social media messages, and door-to-door solicitation.
Here’s our advice, in short: Never interact with any unexpected messages from individuals or companies, even if they're known to you. If you receive an unexpected text message from someone claiming to be your healthcare provider, you can always call your provider directly to confirm its authenticity. Don’t click on any links in text messages or emails that seem abrupt or strange. And be skeptical of anything vaccine-related that asks for payment – the government is funding the vaccinations. Even if you have to pay for a shot to be administered to you, insurance will cover the charge.
Don’t trust anyone who acts fast
Another thing to know about scammers: They act fast and want to whip you into a state of panic so you act rashly. One strategy they employ is saying you’ll “lose your place in line” unless you pay for your vaccination right now. But no legitimate distributor is going to say you have to act immediately “or else.” Older adults will be among the first across the U.S. and Canada to receive immunizations, but the process of immunizing the entire population will take months.
Only share your information with trusted personnel
One reason these scams may prove effective is because the vaccine rollout is such a massive undertaking, and distribution guidelines aren’t clear yet. Generally, the way the process works is the government provides dosages to states, and then state governors decide who receives the vaccines (while following CDC recommendations). While rollout and distribution details are being sorted, check in with your healthcare provider or local health department for further details.
Finally, this above all else: Only trust your primary health provider with your medical and financial information. They are the only ones who will be able to tell you when and where you can be vaccinated.
Atria Senior Living is the sponsor of the Legal Aid Society's Elder Justice program. Learn more about how to avoid vaccine scams at YourLegalAid.org/COVID19ResponseAndResources.
Category: Community, COVID-19, Wit & Wisdom
Posted on December 4, 2020 by Admin
Since the onset of the pandemic, Atria communities have been following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and diligently taking precautions to make resident safety a priority – something that Atria has always done, no matter the circumstance. We quickly galvanized resources and enacted plans to keep residents safe and engaged during quarantine. This began with a nationwide testing program and a collaboration with Mayo Clinic Laboratories as the cornerstone to our COVID-19 safety strategy. Atria’s dedication to protecting residents’ well-being continues with its enrollment in the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Program.
Additional partnerships have also been developed to ensure all residents and staff will receive the vaccination as quickly and safely as possible. This is a crucial development as we look toward a safe and effective vaccine that allows residents and staff to get back to “normal” in 2021.
Atria residents and staff among the first to be vaccinated
In addition to the nation’s healthcare workers, advisors to the CDC recommended that residents and employees of long-term care facilities (which includes assisted living) be the first to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC’s vaccine schedule will be determined as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) works through Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) and states finalize their individual distribution plans. Bear in mind that each state controls their own vaccine deployment plan and plans vary from state to state.
Every Atria community in the United States is enrolled in the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Program, making us part of the first phase of priority access in the nation. We are optimistic that residents and staff could start receiving vaccinations as soon as late December.
A partnership that makes it quick and easy
Thanks to Atria’s partnership with CVS Health, residents and staff will be able to receive the first dose of the vaccine in their own communities. Once the COVID-19 vaccine is available, plans are already in place to ensure it is distributed to Atria communities as safely and quickly as possible. The vaccine will be administered by CVS in a way similar to the flu shot clinics conducted in our communities earlier in the fall.
Keeping our guard up
While Atria is ready for a successful roll out of the vaccine, all safety protocols will continue to be observed until all residents and staff have received the required vaccine doses. Until that time, Atria will continue to optimize the quality of life for residents by providing delicious meals and opportunities for exercise and daily engagement – with well-being and safety always top of mind.
To see how Atria is creating the safest possible environment for residents and staff, visit AtriaSafeTogether.com.
This blog represents the most current information available. We strive to present the best information available at any given moment, but please understand that this situation is fluid and evolving.
Category: COVID-19, Wit & Wisdom
Posted on November 20, 2020 by Admin
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
Posted on November 19, 2020 by Admin
This year, the holidays will look different for all of us. If you are one of the more than 60 million caregivers in North America who look after an older adult inside the home, you may be wondering how to celebrate and stay safe.
Stay connected with others
Many people experience depression during the holidays due to stress and social isolation. Even before the pandemic, caregiving limited the time and opportunities you have to spend with others. Feelings of isolation may be amplified this year.
If this happens, tell yourself it’s okay to be sad. Remind yourself that everyone feels isolated to some degree this year, so you are not alone. Acknowledge your feelings, and then make safe social connections a priority. Call friends and family members often and arrange for online video chats.
Find an online caregiver support group to connect with people who can relate to your feelings. A good place to start is at Caregiving.com. Partnering with another caregiver can help you both navigate the holidays. Agree to talk on the phone, video chat, text or email each other daily. If they live nearby, offer to pick up their groceries the next time you go out, and be sure to ask how they’re doing – from a safe distance, of course.
Acknowledge stress and release it
A long holiday to-do list paired with caregiving responsibilities and extra safety measures can bring out your inner Scrooge. You may feel overwhelmed.
Consider lowering your holiday expectations and obligations this year. If you’re frustrated, use that emotion as fuel and take action. Call a friend and talk about it. Say your feelings out loud. Taking care of stress in a positive, healthy way begins with acknowledging and expressing it – even laughing about it. You can also blow off steam by going for a brisk walk, a bike ride or singing at the top of your lungs inside your car.
Celebrate in smaller ways
Keeping or creating a few special traditions is good for your health and well-being as well as the person you care for, according to Atria's Christy Phillips, PhD in gerontology. Celebrating in smaller ways can help keep the holiday season stress-free. See if a few of the ideas below work for your situation. Most important, choose to do only as much as feels manageable to you.
- Plan a virtual party with family and friends, complete with decorations, holiday music and food.
- Mail gifts ahead of time so you can watch recipients open them via video chat.
- Email family members the lyrics to favorite holiday songs and schedule a virtual sing-along.
- Set aside time to share memories of holidays past.
- Create holiday-themed art together.
- Write and mail holiday cards.
- Play your favorite seasonal music.
- Binge watch some holiday movies.
- Bake your favorite pies, cookies or other desserts, just because. Package up extras to give as gifts or donations.
- Cook a traditional meal together, or have fun coming up with a new dish.
- Dust off your most festive, sparkly duds and dress up for holiday photos. Share them with family and friends via email, group texts or social media.
- Share what you’re grateful for during a gratitude ceremony.
- “Attend” virtual religious services.
Keep in mind, all traditions were new at one time!
There may come a day when full-time caregiving is no longer the solution for you or the one in your care. If and when you’re ready to consider additional options, Atria is here to answer your questions and provide guidance about our communities and senior living in general.
To see how Atria is creating the safest possible environment for residents and staff, visit AtriaSafeTogether.com.
Category: Caregiver Support, Wit & Wisdom
Posted on November 6, 2020 by Admin
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 March, the 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 goal, Rotenberg 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 performances, join fitness classes, or listen to experts speak on a variety of topics, to 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 pandemic, the 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 added, “I think he’s doing a splendid job.”
Bud continued, “Thankfully, between what residents are doing, and the communication from the staff and our Executive Director, coming 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
Posted on October 16, 2020 by Admin
“A firecracker.” “The life of the party.” “Señorita Estallita Fulla Suga.” Estelle Reiff goes by many monikers, which only makes sense for a woman who has played many roles in her long life – an accomplished dancer, teacher and mother. The beloved resident of Atria Forest Hills, a senior living community in Queens, New York, turned 100 in September, and continues to make a difference in the lives of those around her.
“I danced all my life – all I can remember is dancing”
Estelle Reiff was born in 1920 in Nashville, Tennessee, and started dancing at age five. By the time she was 10, she and her brother had formed a vaudeville act called “The Peppiest Pair.” Following a brief stint as a fashion deco model in the late 1930s, Estelle performed in local shows before joining the dance troupe of the renowned Mexican comedian and actor Cantinflas, with whom she traveled throughout the U.S. and Mexico in the 1940s.
In 1948, Estelle married Benjamin – also a dancer – and they settled in New York City, where she opened her own studio and worked alongside luminaries such as Gwen Verdon, Peter Gennaro, Bobby Van, Debbie Allen and Debbie Reynolds. Throughout her career, she danced tap, jazz, ballroom and especially Latin dance (hence the Spanish-styled nickname she gave herself: “Señorita Estallita Fulla Suga.”)
Estelle later served on the board of directors for the New York Society of Teachers of Dancing and was part of a local Hadassah group for more than 30 years, performing at fundraisers. She was also the senior dance instructor for the New York City Department of Education’s Adult Education Program for Dancing, working in the evenings with her husband at Flushing High School for more than 25 years.
In her early 70s, Estelle noticed there were not nearly enough dance programs tailored to seniors, so she set out to be part of the solution by teaching dance at a number of senior centers throughout Queens. She was a long-term participant at the Peter Dellamonica Senior Center, part of the Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens, where she danced every chance she got. According to her son, even a cane – and then a walker – couldn’t keep her in her seat.
“The furthest thing from a wallflower”
Estelle continued teaching dance for Dellamonica when she scheduled a tour of Atria Forest Hills in the fall of 2018. Since she’s been at Atria, she’s continued to contribute and inspire others in a different way.
“She really is a mother figure to everyone in the building,” said Beth Levi, the community’s Engage Life Director. “She’s the furthest thing from a wallflower. She needs to be social. You miss her presence when she’s not there.”
Before the pandemic, according to Levi, Estelle showed up to every program or party at the community. “If she missed anything, she’d be mad.” She treats everyone with respect and kindness, and even people her age seek out her advice. “I’m the 100-year-old encyclopedia,” Estelle said, laughing.
As her son Alan (pictured above) puts it, “just play music and see what happens. She will grab onto anyone close by to move her legs and wiggle her hips in a swirl of joyful movement recalling a lifetime of dance.”
To learn more about how Atria Senior Living is helping residents and families stay connected, visit AtriaSafeTogether.com.
Category: Active Aging, Wit & Wisdom