What Is an Evening Like in an Assisted Living Community?
If you are the adult child working with a senior parent on trying to determine whether a move to assisted living makes sense, you and your father or mother likely have a good number of questions. You probably have begun to gather information about day-to-day life in different assisted living communities, with “day” being the operative word. As you and your parent contemplate the prospect of a move to assisted living, you both may wonder what life is like during the evenings in this type of community.
To provide comprehensive information about what an evening is like in an assisted living community, we break our discussion into six categories:
- Activities, programs, and events
- Personal time
- Time with friends
- Family time
- Activities away from community
Activities, Programs, and Events
A major component of life in assisted living is the availability of various activities, programs, and events for residents. These elements of assisted living run a broad spectrum and include activities, programs, and events that occur in the evenings. For example, evening programming in an assisted living community might consist of some enrichment class, entertainment – including entertainers and the like brought in from the outside, social gatherings, and so forth.
Evening activities, programs, and events are tailored around residents’ preferences. In addition, they are scheduled earlier in the evening rather than later to recognize the desires of many seniors. Finally, assisted living community residents are never forced to participate in activities, programs, and events. They may be encouraged to do so, recognizing the advantages of socialization and other benefits from these types of offerings.
While socialization and community are important aspects of assisted living, residents certainly have a wide berth when it comes to enjoying their own personal time. Many individuals who reside in assisted living dedicate evenings for their own personal time. Many residents may be quite socially active during the day. However, after evening mealtimes, they may retreat to their own apartments or rooms to spend time with themselves. Personal agency, autonomy, and independence are key objectives of assisted living. Thus, a resident’s desire for healthy personal time is never subject to unnecessary interference by staff or even other residents of a particular assisted living community.
Time With Friends
The development of meaningful friendships is one of the particularly important benefits of living in assisted living. While a typical day in assisted living will include the availability of structured activities, as is the case elsewhere in the world, assisted living residents have plenty of opportunities to engage in informal activities. These can include everything from playing cards with friends to going for a walk, watching a movie, and many other things. Evenings in assisted living oftentimes are when friends in a community spend time together doing what friends do.
On many levels and in many ways, meals are a key element of living in an assisted living community. One of the reasons why meals are so important to the daily beat of life in assisted living is because they do provide a time for people to come together to socialize. A more nutritious, delicious meals are designed to enhance the health and wellness of assisted living residents.
Assisted living residents are not required to attend meals in a common dining area. With that said, they are encouraged to do so, at least with some regularity. As a consequence, one of the important elements of an evening in assisted living is the dinner meal. On many days, the evening meal will be the last public or social activity of a resident in an assisted living community, barring attendance at some sort of planned evening activity, program, or event.
Families are always welcome to visit loved ones in assisted living communities. Evenings (and weekends) tend to be ideal times for many family members to visit loved ones in an assisted living community. The workday is over, the kids are home from school, and so forth.
As a result, in the evening hours, family members can oftentimes be seen at assisted living communities. This includes family members who may be joining residents for an evening meal in the dining area. It may also include family members joining residents as participants in some activity occurring at an assisted living community in the evening.
Keep in mind that assisted living communities routinely arrange programs that involve not only residents but also families. In addition, many other activities, programs, and events at an assisted living community are open to family members who might like to attend with their loved one residing in a facility.
Activities Away From Community
Assisted living communities routinely arrange different types of activities away from a facility. For example, trips to a shopping mall, restaurant, movies, and other types of jaunts are commonplace occurrences. Some of these activities take place in the evening. Some activities are included in the monthly costs of living in a community. Others require a nominal charge to residents.
In addition, residents are free to participate in activities of their own planning outside of an assisted living community in the evening as well. These can run the whole gambit of activities, programs, and events, including those things that a resident of an assisted living community enjoyed before the move into this type of long-term care facility.
As you and your father or mother investigate different assisted living options, you should strive to narrow your list down to two or three “finalists.” Once you get to that point, you will want to schedule multiple tours at each community. These tours should include visiting an assisted living community at different times of the day (as well as other days of the week) to get a fuller feel for the beat of life at a particular location. This includes scheduling a visit or tour to an assisted living community on the list of finalists in the evening.