Regardless of your age, it is important know that you’re part of a larger picture. Seniors often live with their family members, and during this time, we observe certain behaviors that lead us to encourage our loved one to seek assisted living. More often than not, we do this for safety reasons, because our loved one has become a danger to themselves or others.
But in the minds of our loved ones, our move to protect their safety may be perceived as the “end of life the way we know it.” Take driving as an example. Many times, our loved one’s right to drive has been taken away because their vision or hearing has changed. Cognitively, they are aware that they cannot do or remember the things they used to. Thus, their connection to the community, favorite eateries, and shopping has been weakened.
It is the responsibility of the assisted living community to provide activities that rebuild and strength that connection.
What is Life Enrichment?
Life enrichment is making sure that seniors have the best quality of life throughout their golden years. It’s keeping them part of a bigger picture.
When new residents come into my community, our first “activity” is to sit down with them and let them know how glad I am that they have chosen to be a part of our community. My Community Relations Director and I always invest a great deal of time learning about their background. I take priding in connecting with them on a personal level from the moment they arrive.
It is here that the focus on life enrichment begins.
Your loved one needs to feel a connection to someone who knows them and who is interested in their lives. They want to know someone who is excited to hear the wonderful stories that each of them brings to the table. My objective through our first activities is to build this foundation, ensuring future friendships and connections are that much easier.
Life Enrichment is Viable for All Residents
Regardless of your stage in life, it’s important to have friends. Assisted living is no different. While a full activities calendar is important, the socialization between residents is the critical component. Activities should provide peer-to-peer interaction.
Let’s take the example of a recent event. We frequently offer cooking classes. It’s not what we cook, but the process of doing it. For example, we recently made chef salad. Why did I choose chef salad, you may ask? Because it provides team work and it allows a social environment. If peeling and chopping doesn’t encourage conversation, nothing will!
We ensured that all of the residents were successful at the event, because there are jobs that everyone can do. By working together, the residents created a wonderful meal using teamwork. I spoke in a previous article about the need to adapt activities so that all may participate. Our cooking class was pleased to have some residents participate who had dementia. They enjoy the washing of the lettuce and vegetables.
Aside from the feeling of teamwork, the event also strengthened friendships. The residents complimented each other on their area of salad preparation. It gave them the opportunity to share stories about meals they used to make and cooking tips. They created a connection that carried through to future events.
It is this continual growth of trust, friendships and community that serves as the basis for life enrichment.
About the Author: Terri Glimcher is a Contributing Writer at Inside Assisted Living and the Activity Director for Summerville at Oak Park Assisted Living, an Emeritus Senior Living property in Clermont, Florida.