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Category: Blog

What to Consider in an Elder Community

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

By Sydney Clevenger

First impressions count, and that’s an adage especially true when searching for an elder living community.

To truly recognize a community as home, there are several elements one should experience when first walking through the door of an elder living facility, said Cedar Sinai Park Community Program Director Jennifer Felberg.

The first perception, said Felberg, should be the environment.

“Many of our visitors to Rose Schnitzer Manor immediately comment on the lightness and brightness and homey-ness of our active assisted living community, which sets the tone for the rest of the experience,” she said. “You want an environment that’s uplifting and warm, with small and large spaces for privacy, comfort, and personalization.”

To be known, have a sense of well-being and fulfillment, and to have a voice are essential tenets at Rose Schnitzer Manor Assisted Living, and those values should be felt walking through every beautiful space, said Felberg.

“People in a tight-knit community know one another, and are known by others,” she said. “If I were looking for a promising elder living community, I’d observe whether the leadership is visible. I’d also pay attention to whether staff smile and greet each other, which indicates they know and support one another, and are integral members of our community.”

Knowing each person is a core value of the Pioneer Network, a New York -based advocacy group championing a culture of aging in which individual voices are heard and choices are respected, no matter the environment.

“You want to see that residents and their home are honored and respected,” said Felberg. “Our community of residents should always feel comfortable not only in the privacy of their apartment, but in all of the public spaces, as well.

“Is there somewhere folks can look out the window at the beautiful gardens, visit over a cup of coffee in a comfy chair, or do a puzzle?” asked Felberg. “Group activities are important, too, but a fully engaged life is demonstrated by how people are choosing to spend their unstructured time, or have opportunities for spontaneity.”

Felberg said communities should strive to ensure elders feel like they belong, and are developing meaningful relationships with the people sharing their living environment.

“Look for whether residents and caregivers also are developing joyful connections,” she said. “Connections are what creates a culture of community, and the importance of a community’s culture cannot be underscored enough.”

Noticing whether a community is welcoming and whether there are people of all colors and nationalities and religions is another view to take when touring a community.

Added Felberg: “A welcoming, diverse community with the Jewish values of love, honor, and respect are the backbone of our culture of community, and it is a difference you can feel.”


Pets Bring Joy at Rose Schnitzer Manor Assisted Living

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

By Sydney Clevenger, with research from Arlene Layton

When resident Elaine was looking for active assisted living, she was adamant that her poodle-mix, Nettie, was coming with her.

“I got Nettie when she was 10, and I’ve had her five years, so she’s 50,” said Elaine, of her apricot-colored fluffy friend.

Nettie often attends singing with the Mazel Tones, politely resting under Elaine’s chair, blinking sweetly at other residents and is unperturbed by the piano.

“She’s the only daughter I have,” said Elaine. “She is good company, and brings love to everyone here at Rose Schnitzer Manor.”

According to a recent study sponsored by the American Association of Retired Persons, more than half of older adults (55%) reported having a pet. Pet owners said their pets help them enjoy life (88%), feel loved (86%), reduce stress (79%), provide a sense of purpose (73%), and help them stick to a routine (62%).

Respondents also reported that pets connect them with others, help them stay physically active, and help them cope with physical and emotional symptoms, including taking their mind off pain.

Resident Marie brought her seven-year-old adopted shelter cats, Cricket and Panda, to Rose Schnitzer Manor when she moved in, and said having pets was definitely a factor in her decision about where to live.

“It was definitely a benefit,” said Marie, with a laugh. I’m not sure which was more important: having the cats, or having intelligent people!”

Marie agrees that her animals help with socialization.

“My cats communicate with me, and they will tell me what they want and what they need. I was down on the first floor one day, and there was a whole group of people having a great conversation about my cat,” said Maire. “People also come up to my room to see the cats. The cats love to lay on the carpet and look out the window at the birds.”

Having a cherished pet should not be a barrier to moving to assisted living, said Rose Schnitzer Manor Administrator Rachael White.

“Elders should be assured that the right facility will welcome their pet,” she said. “At Rose Schnitzer Manor, we have 27 acres upon which residents can walk their pet, and we also allow pets in residents’ rooms. We even allow pet visitations if a resident is caring for someone else’s pet.”

Rachael added that pets become part of the community and are not only a comfort to residents, but also to the staff.

“Our team loves to hear the cats purr and to pet the dogs. It’s truly like being in the comfort of home.”



The Importance of Socialization for Seniors

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

Even for elders blessed with a large family providing regular support, peer to peer socialization is a critical aspect of senior health that many people overlook.

“Seniors living alone often struggle with depression,” said Deborah Elliott, longtime marketing consultant in the senior living industry. “We see this often when a spouse dies, and the isolation brought about by Covid did not help our aging parents feel connected if they were living at home alone.”

Senior living communities provide an opportunity for regular social interaction, as much or as little as seniors decide they want and need.

Elliott remembers a prospective resident who was in post-acute care at Robison Jewish Health Center after a significant cardiac event and was ready for discharge. She was advised not to go home by herself, and her family wanted her to have access to medical care around the clock, treatment they could not provide.

“She had a great big family, all living in the Portland area, really supportive, and they all brought her over to Rose Schnitzer Manor to meet with me,” said Elliott. “And after our tour, the mom said to me privately that she was not moving in. She said she’d stay for a month or two, and then she was going home.

“So, we made that ‘the plan.’ I told her she could drive the bus, so to speak, and make the decision regarding how long to stay with us. As long as the healthcare team was confident about her returning home to live on her own after a month or so, she could do so.

“The family did a great job decorating her apartment to make it feel like home and I saw her almost every day,” added Elliott.

“After a couple of months, I found her in the art studio painting. I reminded her that she had been with us for more than two months, and asked what happened to her going home.

“She looked at me and said, “I know. I really like it here. Is it okay if I stay?

“It reminded me that even though the resident had the support she needed from the health services team and her family, what was essential for her mental and emotional and spiritual well-being were the relationships that she forged while she was in assisted living.

“She was so busy meeting and helping others, that her kids couldn’t get her on the phone, which is exactly what they had wanted for her because she had been isolated and alone before her heart event.”

The lesson, said Elliott, is that elders need regular socialization with their peers, beyond the love and support of family or caregivers. Elders who have experienced the recent loss of a partner or friend, are especially susceptible to depression. Other signs of intense sadness that may need medical intervention include feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness.

The need for socialization is one key indicator for seniors when they and their families are determining whether it’s time to move to assisted living.

Late-life depression affects about six million Americans ages 65 and older, according to WebMD, but only 10 percent receive treatment.

“Even in the most loving and attentive family, seniors can feel adrift and lonely if they do not have access to people their own age to whom they can relate and connect with day to day,” said Elliott. “It’s important to remember that depression in older people can be overlooked when dealing with the effects of many illnesses, disabilities, and medications.

“It’s important to be watchful of a sadness that lasts longer than usual, and to seek medical help if there are any doubts.”





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