In recent years, the senior care industry has seen a reawakening. As people are living longer, senior care facilities—continuing care retirement communities to nursing homes—are providing them with full lives and various health care services, often in one location. Barbara Wrzeszcz, marketing director of Collingswood Manor, has been in the industry for 13 years (10 with Collingswood Manor), and has witnessed the change that can occur in people’s lives when they find the right facility for them. If senior care is something you’ve been considering for a loved one, she says adult children should educate themselves on the various options available and let go of the guilt.
What advice do you have for those seeking care options for loved ones?
It is important to first think about the health of your parent or loved one and how a senior care facility will fit their needs. Does the community offer only nursing home living or are there assisted living options? And if it’s a continuum of care, can they adapt to the needs of your loved one? Are residents segregated in their specific sections or are they open to interact with residents throughout the community?
How can an adult child deal with any guilt they might feel about placing a parent in a senior living community?
I think the more educated you become about these communities, the better. Many people have a picture in their heads of the old nursing home model of care where there is no privacy or independence. That is not retirement/senior living today, especially if your parent is still able to live independently. I encourage adult children to involve their parents in the decision, and when they come to discover what retirement living has to offer now, they are pleasantly thrilled at the opportunities their parents will have. It’s a chance to meet new people and make new memories. Life becomes more fulfilling for them. Family members should not feel guilty because parents will be enjoying a wealth of activities and you no longer have to worry about being the primary caregiver, allowing you to enjoy the parent-child relationship again.
What are some ways to make people more comfortable in their new living arrangements?
We have found a number of ways that we think have helped our new residents feel comfortable. Our directors meet a new resident within the first week of their arrival. They introduce themselves and let them know how their department impacts their lives. We also have a Welcoming Committee of residents that spends at least two weeks with them if the new resident is receptive to this. They get to know their interests and introduce them to others within the community. Of course, all the staff get to know our residents really well. They take time to get to know how they can help make their time here enjoyable by knowing their likes and dislikes. From a family’s perspective, we encourage frequent visits while they adjust. For as long as a resident is here, we want their family members to participate in activities with them, just like they have always done.
How important is it for staff to interact with residents?
It’s very important, not only in the beginning but along the way. I always make a point to stop and say hello to our residents. I’ll often ask how things are going and if they’ve joined in on activities. It will also help me find out if something isn’t working out for them. As we continue to get to know them, we want to enhance their experience. From my conversations, I might also be able to put residents in touch with other residents based on things they have in common. Moving into a retirement community should be a positive experience. It is about making friends, staying active and enjoying yourself. People should be looking for communities that offer great opportunities in these areas and in a place where they feel “welcome and at home.”
460 Haddon Ave.
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 9 (November, 2013).
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