There is a lot of talk about freedom and independence as we all struggle to deal with the circumstances of living through a pandemic. You might feel isolated in your home, unable to socialize with friends—but imagine that you are a senior faced with these same realities every day.
True independence is the freedom and support to pursue your passions. It is about finding that balance between staying safe and healthy, while still living the best possible life. In considering retirement living options, it is important to ask the right questions. All communities provide similar amenities, so it is important to research how they provide personal preferences to encourage and support satisfying and fulfilling days ahead.
What we expect rarely occurs, which is the reality that hits many seniors as they reach their golden years. Without a plan, should a major incident occur, such as an unexpected medical problem, many people are forced to react. Oftentimes this means choosing what, at that moment, seems like the right solution, but might not be the best long-term.
Having a plan allows people to be proactive, says Mark Strahl, Care Director with Lifestage—a senior advisory agency. Getting affairs in order should be a beginning rather than an end.
Not only does Lifestage offer experienced, personal consultations and advice, but they also start with a legacy review workbook designed to help seniors and their family navigate legal, medical, financial, and social factors. This provides peace of mind knowing these needs are addressed in advance.
“We call those the ‘Four Pillars of Aging,’ and from that we develop a comprehensive legacy plan,” Strahl says. “Our definition of ‘legacy’ is where the person is as independent as possible, treated with dignity, and has the opportunity to be protected and have a meaningful life.”
“When you meet people who are scared and anxious, and then all of the sudden you empower them with the clarity of understanding that they can have a legacy, it’s truly rewarding,” Stahl adds.
Moving on in life does not necessarily mean leaving the home you love. Studies show that eighty percent of adults seventy-five and older prefer to age in place because they feel most comfortable with familiar surroundings. To accomplish remaining in their home, they may need some support, and that’s where in-home care services fill a significant need.
According to Andy Niska, owner of Love In Home Senior Care, services like his allow seniors the ability to maintain independence at home while providing the level of care needed to support their health, social, and emotional needs. In-home care is also a perfect option for individuals of any age who are recovering from surgery, injury, or illness.
Niska founded Love in Home after observing the challenges of navigating the elder care options available for his own grandmother. With a health care administration degree and over twenty years’ experience in the medical community, he set out to build a better option for seniors and other individuals who want to preserve their independent lifestyle and be afforded the safety and security of all levels of round-the-clock care.
Love in Home caregivers can help with such tasks as eating, bathing, cooking, cleaning, and running errands. They can provide a range of non-skilled or skilled medical services, from checking vital signs to nutrition therapy and wound care. If family lives out of the area, knowing that caregivers visit regularly and will report on their loved one’s condition can ease worries.
Moving into a senior living community with other residents may sound counterintuitive because of the emphasis on isolation and social distancing. Despite concerns about living with others, there are many positive opportunities for residents.
According to research published by the Associated Retirement Community Operators, residents of retirement communities are healthier, more active, and less lonely. To support an individual’s pursuit of a successful and healthy life is the LiveWell philosophy at Rockwood Retirement Communities. As communications coordinator Lisa VanMansum points out, it is a holistic approach that strives to promote independence, wellness, and lifelong vitality.
Rockwood partners with Spokane Community Colleges to provide history, literature, and creative courses on campus. They also promote active lifestyles by providing fitness classes and outdoor activities for all levels. Many residents and staff alike use their newfound freedom to volunteer in support of the campus and neighboring communities by participating in programs like Reading Buddy, Bite2Go, and The Spokane Symphony.
Rockwood further adds to resident independence by providing transportation services for shopping, banking, visiting, and medical appointments. They also provide personal shopping services during the pandemic. On-campus rehabilitation services for physical, occupational, and speech therapy support residents in regaining their functions after a medical situation, or for ongoing care and help with assistive devices. The environmental services team provides the extra peace of mind for residents by caring for their homes and apartments and providing safe and secure communities where they can enjoy each day to its fullest.
Broadway Court Estates is another retirement community that values life enrichment programs for all seniors. As a family-owned-and-operated independent living community, Broadway Court strives to nourish each resident’s active and creative mind. They tailor activities and recreational offerings to meet the preferences of residents while providing both consistency and variety.
“To us, it is new experiences coupled with old comforts that allow for true freedom,” says Hal Sarff, whose family has served seniors in Spokane Valley by providing quality housing for more than thirty years. “Freedom looks different to each of our residents, and our community aims to learn how to serve them best.”
“It can be encouraging someone to try a new activity or craft, or maybe even go somewhere they have not been before. It can also be as simple as picking up a forgotten hobby or as complex as trying a new physical activity,” Sarff says. “Sometimes it just takes the inspiration of one another, and that is where we can help. So many aspects of retirement living are freeing, and our hope is that our seniors are able to find that feeling through our life enrichment programs.”
At Riverview Retirement Community, residents play a hand in developing recreation plans, from line dancing classes, choir, and bell ringing groups to growing vegetables in a community garden and maintaining a portion of the Centennial Trail.
Many residents are in their mid-to-late eighties, but still have a healthy body and spirit. With that in mind, Riverview offers a state-of-the-art aquatic and fitness center complete with therapy and lap pools, specialized workout equipment, and an indoor walking track. If that is not enough to keep residents busy, there is a woodworking workshop and a crafting studio where they can express themselves at their leisure.
As a continuing care retirement community, often seniors find their place at Riverview first in independent living homes. As needs change, many residents transition to assisted living so they can access more help but remain close to nurture the friendships they have built.
“It’s really neat to see seniors come in kind of shy, and after a few months, they’ve got all these friends and they’re having a gay old time,” says Heidi Ulland, director of sales and marketing. “Not having to worry about the chores of daily living gives residents the independence to be able to truly enjoy retirement.”
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Spokane Coeur d’Alene Living
157 S Howard | Suite 603
Spokane WA 99201
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The Hidden Ballroom
39 W Pacific | Spokane WA 99201
Loft at the Flour Mill
621 W Mallon, 7th Floor | Spokane WA 99201
Hangar Event Center
6905 E Rutter Ave | Spokane WA 99212