Wit and Wisdom Blog for Atria Senior Living

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a new view on growing older

What Seniors Really Want from a Community Lifestyle

Posted on January 23, 2014 by Katy Miller

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It’s hard enough to talk to your mom or dad about the possibility of moving out of their home and into a senior living community. Getting them to open up about what might actually make them feel happy and settled at a new home can present an even larger challenge.

It’s our job as care providers to uncover your family member’s unique interests and talents and tailor programming around their specific desires, and we do that very well.

Over the years, however, we have found that there tends to be a core group of services and amenities that most older adults prefer.

Certainly, the dining experience ranks near the top of the list, particularly if your mom or dad has special dietary needs. Meal times are central to a positive social experience, so be sure when you are looking at community options that the approach to meal preparation and service fits your family member’s expectations.. For example, are the residents able to order from a menu with table service? Is food served buffet style? Is there a set meal each day of the week? Is the kitchen staff willing to go “off menu” for special requests? What are the hours of the kitchen? Can mom or dad get a snack when they want? These are all questions to consider and discuss with your family member before you make a final decision because many times, we find that the dining experience can make a world of difference for your parent.

With this comes the expectation that any care they require will be provided in a discreet and considerate manner. Gone are the days of medication lines and waiting for your turn at the window to get your little paper cup; this should be done in the privacy of the resident’s apartment so they can go about their day in a dignified way.

We are living longer than ever before, and today’s older adults expect, even demand, an active and engaging lifestyle.

Social interaction promotes intellectual stimulation, which is important for active adults. One of the drivers to move from home to a senior living community is the level of social interaction an older adult gets. Group activities may include yoga or stretching classes, movie nights, happy hours, day trips and arts and crafts groups. Be sure the events calendar matches your family member’s interests. And, be sure there is someone at the community who is willing and dedicated to making sure your parent is getting out of their apartment to take part in the many opportunities to make friends and meet new people.

One of the main requests seniors make when they’re getting ready to move into a new community is to stay close to friends and family. People of all ages love to have familiar faces nearby. Knowing people in the area where you live creates an atmosphere of safety and security.

Many seniors feel that they want to live in a community where they can safely spend time outside. Whether it’s a recreation area or park, a walking path or a pool area, older adults like the idea of getting outside, no matter what age they are. In addition, most seniors want a lovely view of the area.

Another important factor is being able to stay in the same residence for the long term. Often, this means that the retirement community has to offer varying levels of care to be of service to older adults as they age and face new challenges. Communities with independent living, as well as access to healthcare, assisted living, a home health agency or a health center, are ideal for those who want to age in place.

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