Recasting the Retirement Mold: From Senior Facilities to Senior Living Communities
“Senior facility.” The term sounds unwelcoming, and it is. It’s often used interchangeably with “senior living community,” but a senior facility and senior living community aren’t the same thing.
The word “facility” has clinical connotations—it’s not where people live. A “community” is a welcoming spot where people live, make memories, and nurture relationships with family and friends.
Senior living communities of today are quite different from ones of the past, although the cold, clinical “senior facility” may be the picture conjured to mind for many seniors when they think of a senior living community. Senior living communities are actually warm, inviting atmospheres that feel like home and offer plenty of amenities to empower residents to live lives to their fullest.
Let’s take a look at how senior living has changed over time and what the senior living communities of today offer.
The Evolution of Senior Housing
In the 1950s, the primary focus of senior facilities was clinical, treating individuals as patients within the facility rather than humans in a community. This is largely because during this time, seniors would typically go to a hospital to receive clinical care and sometimes end up staying there for a long period of time. In response, the government created grants for senior facilities that were focused on clinical care while accommodating longer stays than a traditional hospital.
Many of the negative conceptions about senior living communities come from this outdated image of the time—a cold, sterile environment that didn’t care about the resident as a human. This stereotype has spread throughout movies, TV shows, and books: A sad resident living in a negative clinical environment, without much to do besides look out the window.
The reality of senior care and senior living communities has changed so much over time. Today, senior living communities are just that—communities that are comfortable, welcoming, and feel like home. These communities are vibrant, empowering residents to live their lives to the fullest while providing activities and opportunities to make new friends and build relationships.
Senior living communities are a place to build a home where each resident thrives. They offer resources to help your parent or loved one build the lifestyle they choose while providing the level of supportive care and independence tailored to your parent’s or loved one’s unique needs.
The Benefits of Senior Living Communities
Senior living communities are designed with residents in mind. Each activity is curated to the interests of residents to enhance their lifestyles while getting them involved in new activities. Here are some of the many benefits of senior living communities.
Since the negative picture of senior facilities developed in the 1950s, many people assume that senior living community residents can’t keep their pets. The opposite is true: Many senior living communities today recognize that pets are also a part of the family. The companionship and comfort they provide have proven therapeutic benefits.
RESEARCH HAS SHOWN that pets can help manage depression and loneliness by providing companionship. Studies have also shown several other benefits of pets, including decreased cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Pets are especially beneficial for seniors, helping to maintain cognitive function as well as increasing opportunities for socialization and exercise.
Many senior living communities aren’t just tolerant of pets—the communities even welcome them. These communities have amenities such as dog parks and walking trails on-site so residents and their pets can get the exercise they need while spending time in nature.
Pets aren’t just beneficial for their owner. Residents who love pets but don’t have them will often stop by to bring another resident’s pet a treat or simply visit, experiencing the comfort and therapeutic benefits as well.
Fitness Centers and Classes
Physical activity has many benefits, including improving brain health, managing weight, and reducing the risk of diseases such as cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and type 2 diabetes. However, it can be hard for some individuals to maintain a physical fitness routine.
Sticking to a physical fitness routine is easier when a fitness center is nearby. Many senior living communities have fitness centers that include easy-to-use equipment as well as personal trainers and physical therapists available to create fitness plans or answer questions.
Some communities also offer fitness classes. These classes are fun, focus on health and wellness, and also provide additional socialization benefits. This gives your parent or loved one the opportunity to make friends with common interests.
Socialization is important for improving physical and mental health. Isolation can lead to an increased risk of heart disease as well as rapid cognitive decline, so senior living communities provide many opportunities for socialization through personalized activities. Senior living communities offer activities including learning opportunities, excursions, and social events such as movie or game nights to foster new connections and nurture existing connections between residents.
Dining Rooms and Event Spaces
Senior living apartments are ideal for socializing with family and friends when they visit. If your parent or loved one wants to host a bigger gathering, most senior living communities offer dining rooms and event spaces that can be reserved and used for hosting groups.
Senior living communities generally offer flexible dining plans that cater to residents’ personal preferences and dietary needs. Menus often feature seasonal and regional favorites with daily specials and dining choices that are available every day.
At Cedarhurst Senior Living, our CRAFTED BY CEDARHURSTSM culinary program offers different nutritional options for good health, including options that are heart-healthy, gluten-free, diabetic-friendly, and low-sodium, plus Boost Your BrainSM choices designed to help with cognitive function.
A large benefit to senior living communities is the maintenance-free lifestyle. Landscaping and housekeeping can take up a lot of time. Your parent or loved one—or you, if you’ve been helping them with house maintenance—may not want to focus on those tasks anymore.
At a senior living community, your parent or loved one can focus on the activities that bring them joy rather than worrying about household chores and landscaping care. Senior living communities may also offer services such as laundry, vacuuming, and other household chores so residents can enjoy walking around the landscaped grounds of the community rather than suffering through the drudgery of mowing.
The Importance of Community
Senior socialization is important for addressing feelings of social isolation and loneliness, which are linked to serious health challenges. Even seniors who are very outgoing can start to feel lonely or isolated because their social circle is shrinking.
Senior living is all about community and connecting with others, but considering these serious health complications, socialization becomes even more important. Therefore, senior living communities are designed with social interaction in mind, whether it’s with a new friend or a family member. There are plenty of spaces for residents to chat and get to know each other, as well as recreation spaces, bistros, and more. Making new friends and meeting new people is much easier in a senior living community.
At Cedarhurst Senior Living, we empower our residents to build a life of their choosing. We ensure our communities are tailored to residents rather than creating a one-size-fits-all community. We’re guided by our Living TRUESM philosophy:
Tailored to You
When a resident moves in, we make sure to understand their story and how to create an environment at Cedarhurst tailored to them. After residents move in, we check in with them at least four times per year to ask what activities they like and what they want to see in the future.
Relationships of Integrity and Trust
We’re committed to providing each resident with the personal space they need while creating a supportive community. Relationships are important, so we provide opportunities to meet new friends and a vibrant community our residents are proud to have their loved ones visit.
Uplifted to Live Your Best Life
It’s important that our residents are living life on their own terms and live as independently and healthily as possible. Every person should feel supported and loved, and this belief is at the core of our communities.
Excitement of the Senses
Our communities are welcoming, comfortable spaces for our residents. Our philosophy is to continuously engage the whole person in order to inspire residents and team members every day. Therefore, we strive to provide exceptional dining options, beautiful views, and opportunities for joy in our residents’ lives.
Choose the Right Senior Living Community for Your Parent or Loved One
Senior living communities are vibrant, welcoming atmospheres that feel like home. Choosing a senior living community for your parent or loved one is never emotionally easy, especially if you’re not sure if it’s the right time for senior living. However, the process can be less stressful than you realize.
Start with our quick, free assessment that can help you determine if it’s the right time for senior living for your loved one. After that, download our free guide to choosing the right senior living community.