We hear a lot about assisted living communities these days. If we need to learn more, we check out glossy brochures that describe each place in considerable and colorful detail. Sometimes we visit the community for a meal or to participate in a special event.
What we don’t see when we help a family member consider whether or not to move into an assisted living residence are the small details — the daily interactions of various personalities, the stories of individual community residents, and the ongoing narrative or body politic of daily life.
On her blog, Assisted Living: An Insider’s View, Carol Netzer, a four-year resident of an assisted living community, shares stories, experiences, and observations. A psychologist by training, Netzer possesses a keen eye for detail and a knack for storytelling. Each post describes a situation, a person, or an event, providing readers with a window through which to observe the successes and challenges of the day-to-day assisted living experience.
If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time or even occasionally, you know that I’ve been keeping track of the new Green House Homes at Woodland Park with descriptions, pictures from the groundbreaking, and many construction images. The new neighborhood in Harrisonburg, Virginia, will be a special community that enables elders who have traditionally needed support in a nursing home, to live in a home setting while continuing to maintain much independence. Check out all of my posts about Woodland Park below.
I toured one of the Woodland Park homes recently. Finishing details were in progress, but already the house was filled with light and space, a private room for each resident, a kitchen that anyone can use, and lots of common areas, including a great (and grand) fireplace. The houses are constructed to be accessible — but almost nothing looks institutional. The goal of these homes is to provide a place where elders can live and “maintain self-care abilities longer, experience less depression, and receive timelier intervention as health conditions change.” (VMRC website). Basically, these beautiful buildings look like — well homes.
The hope is for new residents to move into at least some of the homes in January. As I’ve chatted with a few of the residents who may be the initial community members, I detect a sense of excitement, reticence, nervousness, and just a bit of awe — feelings that just about everyone has when moving is a possibility. And the homes continue to rise.
These tips for adult children and their families look like common sense suggestions. Often however, when family members seek an assisted living community for an elder parent, they need to make decisions quickly without much time to read all of the fine print and ask the less obvious questions. Sometimes time constraints can put common sense at the bottom of the list.
Check out item number eight in the Smart Money list, “We pay people to put you here.” A family needs to know a lot about the placement service itself before considering its recommendations for an assisted living community.
Our family was most fortunate to discover Chesterbrook Residences in Northern, Virginia, where my husband’s mother lived for nearly two years. Their policies were transparent and clear.
The VMRC Green Houses at Woodland Park are beginning to look like real houses with roofs, windows, and doors. Now much of the construction has moved indoors. This time when I visited, Mr. Marvin Nisely, who supervises the construction at Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community, took me on an inside tour of one of the homes.
Expand this post to see descriptions of the photos.