The move to assisted living can be extraordinarily difficult for elderly people who are giving up their family home. They often feel as though they are leaving behind family, friends and neighbors. The adjustment can take a toll.
I know because I have a lot of experience in senior housing, having lived in three Assisted Living communities. I can tell you that each has its own strengths, weaknesses, perks, overall atmosphere and treatment of residents.
It can be hard to find the right fit for yourself or your loved one. With all of my experience in this area, I’d like to impart some advice. I have highlighted what I believe to be the most important elements when searching for and adapting to a new life in an assisted living community.
The Right Fit Isn’t Just Location
I was a lifelong city girl from Cambridge MA, but I spent nearly two years in an assisted living community in a small town in the country. There were clear-cut pluses and minuses. The activities were varied and fun, the food was prepared by a gourmet chef, but the struggles between residents and staff were palpable. I left that community after contracting a serious illness. I spent some time in hospitals and rehabs before I landed in another lovely assisted living residence in the city. It was lovely but very pricey, and I couldn’t afford it so I had to move again.
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Finally, my family and case manager found Standish Village in Boston MA for me. I knew immediately that it would be a great fit. The nurse who came out to assess me was very warm and friendly and it turned out that we had both attended the same Quaker boarding school. I was excited to learn that Standish Village was located in Lower Mills, a historic part of Boston MA right near Milton Academy where my father attended school. Lower Mills has a rich history being home to the famous Baker Chocolate Factory.
When I toured the building, I sensed a true warm camaraderie among the residents and staff and felt an instinctive good karma about the place. I also liked that Standish Village is a historic renovated mill building with beautiful apartments that vary in size. You have your choice of shared, studio or one-bedroom apartments.
You Need the Right Mix of Services and Amenities
What I really wanted in an assisted living community was a place where the residents were treated well and with dignity. I also wanted the administration, Certified Nursing Assistants and support staff to all work as a team. Mutual respect and a warm and relaxed ambience were paramount to me.
There are several perks to living here, and in other assisted living communities. For me, the best part about living at Standish Village is that I don’t have to cook and wash dishes! The meals are all homemade by an actual chef and served in two lovely dining rooms. We also have help with medication reminders, housekeeping and laundry services. The aides are from all over the world, which is one of the most interesting features of Standish. The wellness nurses are extremely warm and helpful.
I am very grateful that Standish Village provides us trips to and from doctor’s appointments, as I have many doctors in Newton MA. They recognize that health comes first and happily provide this wonderful service.
The Community’s Activities Should be Varied
Finally, the activities department has a wonderful director who works very hard to organize activities for all residents, at all ability levels. For me, it’s important to get out for a nice meal or to go shopping, but not everyone is physically able to do that. But for them, there is so much to do inside the community! There are many events, wine and cheese evenings, and performers who come into our community. We also have an adjoining daycare with lots of small tots who come to visit us.
Of all of these wonderful activities, I think the best is that anyone who chooses Standish Village (or another community) can create their own niche. You do whatever you choose to do. If you want to dive into the assortment of activities, you can, but no one forces you to do anything.
It may seem frightening to move to assisted living, no matter what your personal circumstances happen to be. I had to move several times, away from where I grew up in Cambridge. I don’t get visits from family who live out of state, and many of my friends live too far away and can’t visit any more. Therefore, Standish has become my family.
I hope you find a place that can be your extended family too.