September 13-19th is National Assisted Living Week. The theme for this year is “Nourishing Life: Mind, Body, Spirit.” In twelve years of working in senior care, I have seen many situations where Assisted Living communities have truly nourished life for seniors.
Many seniors and their families desire to age in place AT HOME. This is a common goal for aging people and might be what is best for some people. However, out-of-home options can be better for many seniors who otherwise face safety risks, isolation, and severe under-engagement when they choose to stay home beyond a realistic point. This is particularly true for individuals living with dementia, who benefit from the routine and structured environment provided in dementia care communities.
Many of us – myself included – have memories of seeing our own grandparents in nursing homes and thinking “I never want to be in a place like this” (Trust me, I get it). However, not all community based living options are like the dark, smelly, scary institutions of the past. In fact, many independent living, assisted living, and even nursing homes are now very home like and quite nice. You just have to know your options.
This brings us back to Assisted Livings, after all it is National Assisted Living Week. Let’s return to the theme for this year – Nourishing Life: Mind, Body, Spirit. Does this happen in assisted living communities? Absolutely:
- Assisted Living communities nourish the mind by providing cognitive stimulation and engagement through activities such as brain games, puzzles, and programs where residents can learn new information. Seniors living at home often lack this type of routine mental stimulation that is needed to keep their brains sharp as they age.
- Assisted Living communities nourish the body by providing daily, healthy and balanced meals as well as exercise programming to keep residents moving. Many seniors living at home fail to nourish their bodies with well-balanced diets. Consequently, many are malnourished or undernourished. The benefits of routine physical exercise in aging are countless, but many seniors are inactive when living in their home without the availability of exercise programs and encouragement to participate from peers and staff.
- Assisted Living communities nourish the spirit and enhance well-being through creative arts programming. Many assisted living residents engage in music, art programs, pet therapy and other beneficial programs that help them stay connected with others. Seniors living at home are more likely to be isolated and less engaged in activities, which can lead to depression and other negative physical and emotional consequences.
For assisted living week, I challenge all of us to appreciate the benefits that Assisted Living communities provide our seniors. Many who give it a try actually thrive much better when they move to a community and see just how Assisted Livings truly do Nourish Life: Mind, Body, Spirit.
Written by Rebekah Wilson, MSW