Flourishing in 6 dimensions: How to choose a senior living facility

(BPT) - “Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can,” wrote Danny Kaye, beloved Hollywood performer. Kaye’s advice certainly reflected his colorful career. It's true that the more one expands one’s palette of experiences, the more vibrant life becomes.

As you evaluate senior living communities for the next step in your or a loved one’s life journey, look for environments with an array of resources conducive to flourishing. The National Wellness Institute defines Six Dimensions of Wellness — physical, emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual and environmental — which can serve as a guide to enrichment and growth.

1. Physical. Look for a community fostering physical wellness through excellent health care, nutrition and exercise. Confirm that each resident receives a care plan tailored to individual needs, and that services such as physical, occupational and speech therapy are available onsite. There should be ample access to state-of-the-art fitness equipment designed for older adults and daily group-led exercise programs.

The finest senior living communities offer healthful meals prepared from scratch by professional in-house chefs to meet residents’ dietary needs. Look for a variety of dining venues, from casual bistros to formal restaurants with gourmet cuisine.

For example, Anthology of Clayton View boasts chef Adam Shaw, former head chef for Ritz-Carlton. Anthology of The Plaza chef Sam Hudging prepares happy hour appetizers highly enjoyed by residents, and his theme-inspired meals have delighted residents and families alike.

2. Emotional. Emotional wellness means having a positive sense of self and feeling connected to others. Consider senior living communities whose staff and environment encourage connectedness. Do compassionate care providers ensure that each care plan promotes independence? Are staff aware of individual care plans, so they have a holistic understanding of each resident? Does the community provide opportunities for emotional development, such as intergenerational art therapy for individuals with memory loss, plus pet therapy and music therapy?

Another key to emotional wellness is a sense of fun. At Anthology of Louisville, management and staff lead by example. They turn Kentucky Derby day into a highlight of the year. And when many residents had birthdays the week the COVID-19 crisis hit, they organized a family parade of cars for a motorized birthday party.

3. Intellectual. Intellectual wellness is cultivated through stimulating mental activities and access to opportunities to expand and share knowledge and creativity. Look for a senior living option offering opportunities to expand residents' minds. Learning experiences like language courses, sewing classes and lectures by guest speakers should be listed in their calendar.

4. Social. For social wellness, residents need to feel connected to family and community, with opportunities to enhance friendships. This has been severely challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic. Senior living communities nationwide have had to implement strict safety protocols such as in-room isolating, social distancing, use of personal protective equipment, screening and testing. Inquire if the community you are considering acted quickly to put programs in place to help residents maintain connectedness to loved ones.

Despite difficult circumstances, premium senior living communities still provide creative and engaging socially distanced activities to promote residents’ mental and emotional wellness and use technology to help residents connect with loved ones.

“Our Socially Distanced Engagement Program provides residents with daily activities that focus on the mind, body and spirit to keep them mentally stimulated and physically active,” says Anthology Senior Living president Benjamin Burke. “We continue to look at the best ways to keep lines of communication open, and we encourage residents and loved ones to stay connected through phone calls, video chats and email. The safety and well-being of our residents and team members is always our true north.”

5. Spiritual. Spiritual wellness encompasses the need for meaning, as expressed in spiritual beliefs and practices. Look for senior living communities providing opportunities for spiritual growth, with spiritual gatherings such as non-denominational services, rosary prayer, hymn singing, devotionals and Shabbat celebrations.

6. Environmental. Our feeling of wellness is profoundly affected by our environment. Look for a beautifully designed community with welcoming indoor and outdoor spaces. Seek sophisticated accommodations with spacious private suites and a variety of floor plans to meet individual preferences.

The best-designed communities offer well-appointed public spaces such as meeting rooms, landscaped courtyards and raised planters for resident gardening.

Keep these Six Dimensions of Wellness in mind as you research your or your loved ones’ next home. All six dimensions should be interconnected, strengthening residents as individuals and the community as a whole. With many senior living options available, thoughtful evaluation will help you find a community that provides the enrichment and care needed for a flourishing lifestyle.

To learn more about independent living, assisted living and memory care, visit AnthologySeniorLiving.com.

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