Aging in Excellence
Senior living communities evolve to meet the needs of a new generation of senior citizens.
By KATIE GANTT
“Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength” — Betty Friedan
Making the decision to move to a senior living commu-nity can be overwhelming for seniors and their care-givers alike. ἀere are many factors to consider when weighing the available options. One of the first things to consider is the level of care that will be needed by the resident. ἀere are three standard levels of care at most retirement communities: independent living, assisted living, and skilled care.
Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publishing declines these levels of care as follows. Independent living is “for people who can take care of themselves but want the convenience of someone else doing the cooking and cleaning.” Assisted living is meant for those who need help with some basic everyday tasks such as bathing, getting dressed, preparing meals, or remembering to take medication. Often times a nurse or nursing assistant checks on these residents every day. Skilled nursing is “typically for people who can no longer care for themselves and need the help of a nurse or nursing assistant 24 hours a day.” Many communities also oᴀer memory care and short-term rehabilitation therapy as options.
Two area retirement communities, Wellmore of Lexington and Wildewood Downs, oᴀer all of the above levels in care in addition to a range of luxury accommodations.
Glenn Ferrere, executive director at Wellmore of Lexington, advises that people considering relocation to a retirement community be honest with themselves about what they can aᴀord from the beginning of the process. “You want to typically only make a move one time, so you don’t want to choose a community that you can’t aᴀord for a few years and then have to start looking again.”
Ferrere also suggests that people consider their personal interests and hobbies versus what a community oᴀers in terms of recreation. For example, Wellmore has a heated indoor pool which is an excellent amenity and may be the deciding factor for some to make the decision to move there. On the other hand, there are residents who may enjoy simply walking the premises for exercise or attending a low impact aerobics class versus swimming. For them, the indoor pool would add no value. “We want to find out the answers to your needs and be a resource to you and make sure we are the best fit to meet your needs. If not, we are here to provide help to ensure that we help you make the right decision, even if it means you end up at another senior living community,” Ferrere says.
Diana Chavis, executive director at Wildewood Downs in Columbia, suggests considering the answers to the following questions when choosing a community. What services and amenities are oᴀered? What is the age range of residents? What is the average length of time that residents live in the community? Are wellness services oᴀered? Lastly, never overlook the value of “word of mouth” feedback. Ask current residents about their experience. Are they happy there? What are some things they’d like to see change?
Speaking of change, the senior living community culture has significantly advanced in the last ten years to keep up with social norms and cultural expectations. “Senior living communities continue to change to meet the evolving needs of our senior population. Seniors are looking for the features that new homes oᴀer to-day. Our seniors are more tech savvy these days and often look for a ‘smart’ community that oᴀers computers, wi-fi, etc. they are often looking for a community that offers a focus on wellness, meaning exercise classes, fitness equipment, indoor pools, and walking areas,” Ferrere says.
There are many outdated misconceptions about senior living communities that Ferrere and Chavis strive to clear up, including the idea that retirement communities are depressing and dull and that the meals provided are not appetizing. At Wellmore there is restaurant style, fine dining with a full menu selection, any time dining, a bar, a pizza oven, and more —all of which oᴀers Ḁexibility for guests’ various preferred eating schedules. Ferre-re always recommends that people enjoy a meal or two to really see how the food is before making any decisions on a residence. Chavis describes the fare at Wildewood Downs as “Fine dining where the food is artfully prepared.” Both residences also oᴀer a multitude of wellness and recreational activities, creating a healthy, inclusive, and fun atmosphere for residents.
Wellmore is located adjacent to the esteemed Golden Hills Country Club in Lexington. ἀe clubhouse at Wellmore features fine dining, an activity room, a living room, a study, a café and bar, a salon and spa, as well as on-site rehabilitation services. The wellness center is home to a heated indoor therapy pool with a ramp to enable easy entry, stationary exercise equipment, a weight room, and a classroom/aerobic space.
Wildewood Downs is located in the heart of the Wildewood neighborhood in Northeast Columbia. It’s a 37-acre gated community that boasts three ponds and beautiful, lush landscaping. Members enjoy endless social activities, an award-winning wellness program, and a range of luxury accommodations. Both locations oᴀer memory care services as well, for residents with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Chavis reflects on a married couple that resides at Wildewood Downs and the way her team has been able to accommodate their evolving needs. “We have a couple who moved to one of the cottages and lived there for several years. His wife had Alzheimer’s and as time went by, it progressed to the point that the husband could no longer take care of her in the cottage. We have a memory care unit in our community so he made the decision to move her there where she could be well cared for. The beauty of this story is that he is now able to ride his golf cart (of which every home comes with) down the road to visit her every day. Their relationship is one of beauty and compassion and to see this touches your heart.”
If relocation to a senior living community turns out to be the best decision for you or a loved one, it’s comforting to know that there are compassionate, luxurious, state-of-the-art options right here in the greater Columbia area.