ALEXANDRIA, Va.  – November 16, 2011 – There is much talk about the distance between The Greatest Generation and The Millennial Generation, but last week the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) made an effort to narrow that gap.  Twenty-two year old Jackie Kerin, an ALFA public policy associate spent five days living the life of a typical resident of a senior living community in a new initiative called Fifty Years in Five Days. 
   
Ms. Kerin became a resident of Emeritus Senior Living at Deep Run in Richmond, VA., eating the food, sleeping in a resident apartment, and engaging in day-to-day activities—just like any other resident in the community.  During the week, Ms. Kerin interviewed residents and staff, recorded her experiences and shared them online at alfa.org/50in5. Though each senior living community offers different services and amenities, Ms. Kerin’s experience was fairly typical. 

At the end of the week, Ms. Kerin reflected on her experience and developed a list of her top ten impressions:  

  1. Senior living is a social experience – Residents commonly said that they had been socially isolated, even depressed, before they moved into their senior living community.  In the senior living community they formed close relationships with other residents—average age 82—and with the community’s staff.
  2. The community feels like home – The private apartments, warm furnishings, and the personal touches contributed to making the residents feel that their apartment is just like home.
  3. Seniors stay engaged in the outside community – Residents participated in activities away from the senior living community, such as shopping trips and lunch outings.  They are actively engaged in current events and even the latest celebrity gossip!
  4. Senior living employees and residents treat each other like family – Residents often treated staff members like their own children or grandchildren, while staff members of the community looked up to residents and cared for them as if they were their own family.
  5. Residents exercise their mind and body- Taking exercise classes and going for outdoor walks, senior living residents are physically active. The seniors also take care of their minds by doing puzzles and teaching skills to one another.
  6. The food was really good! – Everyone enjoyed the snacks and the many menu choices served in the dining room. They were served restaurant-style and the meals were well-balanced, nutritious and delicious.
  7. Senior living residents are busy people – The residents took part in many planned activities available throughout the day as well as many other personal activities, such as going to the beauty salon or visiting with family.
  8. Seniors continue to do the hobbies they enjoy – Senior living residents live as they did at home, many continuing their lifelong hobbies.  For example, lifelong artists are able to continue to hone their artistic skills. 
  9. Residents love to learn- Seniors are constantly learning and growing and they have many educational opportunities.  Some educational programs are even taught by other residents.
  10. Residents value and maintain their independence – Residents often talked about the importance maintaining their independence and how fortunate they feel to live in an environment that nourishes independence they might have lost otherwise living at home.

 
Many seniors currently living at home can benefit from moving to a senior living community. By sharing her experiences in our Fifty Years in Five Days program, we hope Ms. Kerin’s experience will help to overcome misperceptions and reduce the fears many seniors and their families may have about moving from home.  Ms. Kerin’s stay was a life-changing experience that provided her with valuable insights about what it is like to be a senior in a senior living community.  And it will benefit her work as an ALFA employee and her career as a senior living professional.

About ALFA
The
Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) is the largest national
association exclusively dedicated to professionally-managed,
resident-centered senior living communities and the seniors and families
they serve. Since 1990, ALFA has advocated for choice, accessibility,
independence, dignity, and quality of life for all seniors. ALFA’s
programs promote business and operational excellence through education,
research, publications, professional networking and online tools
designed to foster innovation and entrepreneurism in the field of senior
living. Visit ALFA’s Web site at alfa.org.

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