Senior Living Communities – Is it Really Living?

Many seniors would say, “I’m not ready” or they might say that “People who live at an assisted living facility are sick and frail.” Well, that could be true for residents who have lived there for a while or if you wait too long, but, if you arrive in a senior living community before some tragedy occurs, you will realize there is so much more to do! It’s like going to a senior center or adult day services center every day. There are a variety of activities to stimulate the mind including discussing daily events, memory games, poetry reading, card games, group cross word puzzles and even Scrabble! The recreation department aspires to get the body moving every day and make it fun! There’s chair yoga, exercise specialists, Zumba, dancing, movement therapy, walking clubs, living room bowling, balloon toss, and even horticulture therapy! People who work in senior living communities make lifting your spirit a daily mission. There is friendly conversation, music therapy, entertainers, pet therapy, cuddle therapy, art therapy and we can’t forget bingo! They even have happy hour! Living in an assisted living community is like living at home, only better! Here are some of the other benefits:

  1. No More Laundry!
  2. No More Cooking!
  3. No More Cleaning!
  4. No More Changing Light Bulbs!
  5. No More Taking Out the Trash!
  6. No More Yard Work! (unless you enjoy the occasional gardening)

This sounds like a good retirement plan to me. If you prefer peace and quiet, you can retire to your private room. You have a bed, living space, kitchenette or full kitchen depending on the community, a private bathroom with your own shower and emergency devices around just in case. You can even control your own thermostat like a hotel room. It’s like being on vacation every day!

For those who have dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, the better communities also have furnishings all around. Spring Hills Senior Communities and Poet’s Walk, Spring Hills Memory Care Communities call these furnishings, “Life/Work Access Attractions.” They are designed as an interactive therapy at Spring Hills Senior Communities Spring Cottage Memory Care Environment.   Visitors to the Spring Cottage memory care environment at one of the Spring Hills Senior Communities Assisted Living locations may be surprised to encounter a complete infant’s nursery in a hallway, with life size baby dolls, diapers and a full layette. There may also be a rack of military uniforms, a GI’s footlocker, field utensils and service memorabilia dating from World War II and the Korean War that are in another public space, accessible at any time. Additionally, there may be a business equipment area including a clattering manual typewriter, a heavy dial telephone and a mechanical adding machine that are positioned on a wooden desk inviting passersby to sit down and recreate the mid-century office experience. These are not “stage sets” or hands-off interior decorating displays. These are specifically “hands-on”!

Known as “Life/Work Access Attractions,” these furnishings have a therapeutic role with Alzheimer’s and dementia residents and are designed to help them access calming memories of times and places in their past when they were competent and happy. The attractions at Spring Hills are all refreshed vignettes designed to resonate with their current residents.  Because of their various locations, memorabilia is specifically selected to connect with seniors and their livelihood in that particular area in the 1940s and 50s. These are all designed to bring important events and experiences from their past into the present in one of the fifteen Spring Hills Senior Communities in FL, NJ, OH, VA, TX and NV. These displays are designed to be highly attractive and encourage interest, movement and spontaneous interaction.  Any individual item may spark an unexpected, positive memory.  The layette may help a resident recall the special smell of a baby when she was a young mother.  The desk set with business machines may appeal to a former secretary, school teacher, a lawyer or an accountant. Seniors with dementia are often hyper-sensitive and these attractions are carefully designed to be so visually appealing that they literally can shift the attention of a person who is feeling agitated. A familiar tactile or sensory experience often helps an Alzheimer’s patient access deeper memories of once-familiar routines, which can have a calming effect. Residents with progressive memory loss are much more comfortable talking about earlier life memories, because the area of the brain that stores long term memories is affected later in the disease’s progression.  A resident often knows more about their lives when they were 40 years younger than what they know about what happened last week.  These attractions are like a link to that resident’s life history.

No matter what stage of the aging process you are in, there is something for you to enjoy in a senior living community, even if it just comes down to not being so alone.