How Can Senior Living Communities Incorporate Wellness Into Residents’ Lives?
Wellness programming contributes to resident satisfaction.
Lifestyle is an important factor when choosing a senior living community. Beyond physical spaces, square footage or pricing, a culture that actively promotes senior wellness is an essential characteristic to a thriving and modern senior living community.
Fifteen years ago, the idea of having a senior wellness program may not have been on the radar of most communities, but today, the wellness programming experience is one of the top contributors to resident satisfaction. We often find that residents are most enthused and excited to talk about the fun they had in group wellness activities or the new friends they’re making as part of the social aspects of organized fitness. This can significantly impact a resident’s willingness to recommend his or her community to a friend. Whether a community is for-profit or not-for-profit, occupancy rates are crucial to sustaining their livelihood. Providing innovative senior wellness programming can be the key differentiator that allows a community to stand out from others in the area.
As the wellness expectations of seniors begin to shift, we’ve started to take note of a few trends currently impacting senior health and wellness programs across the country.
One of the most notable technology trends in the world of senior wellness is the increased use of wearables. Whether it’s an Apple Watch®, Fitbit®, or any fitness tracker, seniors actively monitor workouts, track steps, and manage their stress and sleep habits. Wearables quickly can become an active part of wellness activities for seniors by creating community step challenges or integrating wearables as a more active part of their physical health programming. The new generations of seniors are more comfortable with and expect to use technology in all aspects of their life.
Seniors are becoming increasingly aware of the harmful impacts that declines in brain health can have. Many seniors, even those in good mental health, have increased risk of developing neurological and mental health disorders. It’s imperative to provide programs that promote healthy brain activity. These programs are not only attractive to potential residents and their families, but many current residents also see them as a critical part of well-rounded wellness programming.
Brain healthy games, like crossword puzzles or Sudoku, have long been used in senior living to keep residents’ brains stimulated. By using tablets and other devices, these intellectual games are becoming more accessible and easier to use. Communities also are in the beginning stages of using virtual reality technology to engage residents. Interested individuals can now partake in virtual excursions and trips to faraway places like the Colosseum or a world-famous opera. And to increase the social component of this, we encourage these technological excursions to take place in group settings.
As new trends begin to emerge, one thing remains certain: The latest generation of seniors is more mindful of their health and wellness. They want to keep their healthy routines going, or in some cases, take their health and well-being to the next level. It’s now a community-wide responsibility to provide wellness programs that are well-executed and well-branded.
At Asbury Village, we take a holistic, multi-dimensional approach to our overall wellness programs by focusing on the many dimensions of wellness such as physical, intellectual, spiritual, environmental, emotional and more. Senior wellness is much too broad to be viewed as a one-person job. Implementing successful senior health and wellness programs requires intense collaboration between many individuals and departments. For instance, if a resident is looking to increase their wellness by reducing the risk of heart disease, lose weight or improve their overall physical fitness, proper nutrition is going to be a vital part of that. And the same thing goes with improving brain health. By teaming up with a community’s food and beverage department, a community can identify and promote many brain-healthy foods that are imperative to sustaining intellectual wellness. We make a promise to residents that we are going to enhance their lifestyle.
About The Author
Tony Galvan is the director of health & wellness for Life Care Services. As part of the LCS Health Services Division, Tony partners with all LCS communities to launch and execute comprehensive and successful wellness and health navigation programs. Tony has worked in the health and wellness industry for over 17 years with expertise in lifestyle programming and the development and execution of post-acute and care coordination strategies.
Listen to Tony and his colleagues as they discuss senior wellness and other senior health-related topics.