Promoting Assisted Living Resident Vitality and Wellbeing
The move from independent living into assisted living represents a major lifestyle change. The ultimate objective of assisted living is to aid an older individual to enjoy the most independent and fulfilling life while having whatever basic activities of daily living tended to by competent, caring staff. An underlying component of the services provided at an assisted living community is to promote the vitality and wellbeing of each individual resident.
In this article, we discuss how assisted living can promote and enhance resident vitality and wellbeing. In doing so, we present information about assisted living resident vitality and wellbeing in six separate categories:
- Meals and nutrition
- Exercise and fitness
- Enrichment and entertainment
- Religious and spiritual
- Family and friend connections
Meals and Nutrition
At the heart (literally, when you think of heart health and related issues) of assisted living resident vitality and wellbeing is the fact that in this type of community, residents are provided with meals that are delicious and nutritious. There are a number of important facts to keep in mind about meals and nutrition in assisted living:
- Care is taken in the preparation of meal menus in an assisted living community to ensure optimal nutrition and delectable selections.
- An assisted living community typically serves three full meals each day, breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- Residents can take their meals in a common dining room and socialize with their neighbors (which adds another dimension to the vitality and wellness benefits of the meals and a nutrition element of life in assisted living).
- If a resident so desires, he or she can also take a meal in their apartment or room when they so desire.
- Special diets can be obtained in an assisted living community. For example, if a resident has diabetes, a diet plan and associated menus for a person with that diseases will be crafted in an assisted living community.
- If a person has dietary requirements associated with a faith system or religion, those can be accommodated in an assisted living community as well.
Exercise and Fitness
In addition to a balanced and delicious diet, another foundation of enhancing vitality and wellbeing is regular exercise. Assisted living communities include exercise and fitness options into their overall course of programming. Examples of how assisted living communities encourage regular exercise among their residents include:
- Host exercise and fitness classes and programs onsite at an assisted living community. For example, many assisted living communities take advantage of the SilverSneakers fitness program for seniors.
- Coordinated efforts are also made in an assisted living community to ensure that those residents who elect not to participate in organized exercise or fitness classes still engage in these types of activities on their own or perhaps with one or two other residents. For example, an assisted living community is apt to encourage its residents to consider the value of walking several times each week.
Enrichment and Entertainment
An older person’s vitality and wellbeing is enhanced when he or she has access to enrichment and entertainment activities. As a matter of course, assisted living communities typically offer a wide array of different types of enrichment and entertainment activities that truly do run a broad spectrum. These include such things as:
- Art classes
- Music classes
- Music performances
- Ongoing adult education classes
- Theatrical presentations
- History classes and presentations
In addition, if this programming is not offered onsite, assisted living communities also tend to schedule excursions from facilities to attend everything from plays to movies to concerts. When these activities are planned in or out of a community, oftentimes family members are invited to attend.
A prevalent and persistent myth associated with the move from so-called independent living in a private home into an assisted living community is that this process results in a loss of independence for an older person. There is no doubt that an older person’s life does change to some degree upon moving into assisted living. With that point conceded, a person can fairly argue that an individual who moves into an assisted living community actually increases his or her level of independence.
Prior to moving into assisted living, an individual is responsible for a multitude of tasks of daily living that run the gambit from house cleaning to laundry to other types of day-to-day activities. The bottom line is that in many cases an elderly individual has to devote so much time to these efforts that he or she has little time left for anything else.
Upon moving into assisted living, some activities of daily living will be taken on by staff of a community. For example, meal preparation and laundry are among the tasks that will be take on by an assisted living community caregiver. This actually frees up more of a resident’s time. In fact, this enhances a person’s overall level of independence because he or she now has more, not less, time to enjoy different aspects of life.
A socialization deficit is a common problem among older individuals who live on their own in private residences. Another way in which an assisted living community can promote and enhance an older individual’s overall vitality and wellbeing is through socialization.
The basic facts are plain. An older individual who is not lonely and socializes regularly with others typically is at a lower risk for everything from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia to an earlier death.
Religious and Spiritual
For many individuals, their sense of self and overall vitality and wellbeing is enhanced by their participation in religious or spiritual activities. The fact that a person moves into assisted living doesn’t mean that he or she has to alter his or her religious or spiritual practices.
For example, if a resident of assisted living has been a Sunday churchgoer or Saturday synagogue attendee, those activities absolutely can continue when an individual moves into this type of long-term care community. As a general rule, an assisted living community provides transportation to get residents to and from their religious or spiritual services of gatherings.
Family and Friend Connections
Finally, an assisted living community promotes resident vitality and wellbeing by helping a resident to maintain their family and friend connections despite not living in a long-term care community. This is accomplished on a number of levels:
- Encouraging regular visits to an assisted living facility by family and friends
- Encouraging excursions from an assisted living community with family and friends
- Featuring activities at an assisted living community to which family and friends are invited to attend
In the final analysis, on many levels and in many ways an assisted living community provides various pathways through which a resident is able to maintain or even enhance his or her overall vitality and wellbeing. Yes, assisted living does change the life of a new resident. But that change definitely can be positive.