Patricia Will, Founder and CEO of Belmont Village Senior Living, an integrated developer, owner, and operator of luxury senior housing with more than 4,000 employees and 31+ communities in the U.S. and Mexico, shares insights into how the senior living industry is evolving in 2022 to meet the ever-changing needs of aging adults.
A culture of innovation, top-notch clinical care and hospitality, continuous investment in research, collaboration with key academic partnerships, and state-of-the-art cognitive health programming include the following to help seniors thrive:
- Telehealth: As heavily congested and overburdened ERs and urgent care facilities become more commonplace, seniors can now access immediate medical attention without risking unnecessary exposures or potentially dangerous wait times. In some senior living communities, residents are able to take advantage of telehealth doctor visits complete with on-site testing, high-tech carts with digital electric cardiograms and stethoscopes, EKGs, diagnostic cameras, and more. Fully licensed on-site nurses operate telehealth carts to provide seniors and their families remote access to the nation’s top doctors from any location in the community and from the comfort of a resident’s own apartment. Whether telehealth is used for a general examination or to diagnose and treat a critical condition, the doctor can hear lung and heart sounds, check ears, throats, wounds, and rashes while family members are seamlessly integrated into the evaluation process and course for next steps.
- Customized cognitive care for Alzheimer’s, Dementia, and the aging brain: Mental workouts and long-term memory enrichment programs promote mental stimulation, socialization, reduce stress, and aid in maintaining a healthy lifestyle – all of which help aging adults live engaging and purposeful lives. Cognitive care programs in senior living communities can improve critical thinking, memory-body movement, and long-term memory enrichment, which have been shown to lower dementia risk and slow cognitive decline while maintaining brain function and a higher quality of life. Belmont’s proprietary, signature Circle of Friends® program was developed to address Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and early-stage memory loss, and has been proven to slow the progression of dementia. For aging adults in general, the Whole-Brain-Fitness approach integrates mental stimulation, socialization, and a healthy lifestyle – all while building cognitive reserve in the brain.
- Innovative Collaborations: The finest senior living environments are utilizing learnings from teams of specialists from top-tier universities, healthcare institutions, and professional organizations to craft programming that differentiates themselves from traditional nursing homes. In tandem with groundbreaking programs and events, some one-roof models of independent living, assisted living, and memory care combine the highest levels of hospitality and care to ensure aging adults are engaged in their environment and community and living their best lives. For example, The Raise Your Resilience (RYR) study emerged from a collaboration with the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Mather Institute. Seniors utilizing the RYR intervention program experienced an increase in resilience and perception, along with a significant reduction in the level of daily stress by participating in mindfulness, gratitude, and value-based activities. Baptist Health, the largest healthcare organization in Coral Gables, Florida, is currently breaking ground in collaboration with Belmont Village to provide its cognitive and fitness programming and signature 24/7 health care support for residents and area seniors, allowing for direct access to top-of-the-line care in a novel approach to enhance senior living.
- Unique Housing Options: Senior living communities are popping up in the most desirable locations, offering a change of scenery and the benefits of beautiful weather year-round in places like San Diego, Coral Gables, Florida, and Mexico to name a few. In addition, instead of adult children following their parents, seniors are now relocating to join their adult children in these desirable locations. More than ever before, seniors are migrating farther distances to settle into senior living communities near their family. To optimize location, each community is carefully planned and designed with seniors in mind including, inviting outdoor and indoor spaces, luxury amenities, and customized services at each unique location.
- Prioritizing Socialization in Community: A study from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project demonstrated that social disconnection puts older adults at greater risk for depression and anxiety. According to the United Health Foundation, factors that increase loneliness in seniors include disability, independent living difficulty, and living alone. When a senior’s support network is restricted by limited transportation options and lack social integration, their support network decreases in size over time, and greater isolation ensues, which can have a detrimental effect on their mental health. Getting involved in activities and programming with peers is vital for cognitive health and supports purposeful, engaged lives. Seniors should have access to amenity-rich options that promote social connections and provide entertainment and culture, such as cinema screening rooms, art ateliers, beauty salons, social lounges, music rooms, dog parks, and conference rooms. A variety of upscale options like bistros, bars, outdoor dining, group fitness rooms, putting greens, resort-style pools, and massage rooms also allow providers to address residents’ unique diets and fitness needs. One senior living resident who was recently on Jimmy Kimmel live said, “I’m having more fun now than I did in high school!”
- Financial planning: While young adults can benefit from purchasing their homes, when older adults are unable to accomplish basic daily activities like bathing, dressing, eating, continence, toileting, or are experiencing cognitive impairment, it may be time to rent an apartment in a top-notch senior living community. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the odds of requiring long-term care is almost at 70% for the average 65 year old, making the cost of assisted living an issue for many. Retirees with a sizable health savings account may use their pre-tax funds to cover long-term care premiums or expenses. The average long-term care insurance premium worth $165,000 for a healthy 55-year-old man may cost $1,375 to $3,685 per year, according to the American Association of Long-Term Care Insurance, but will most likely cover the cost of an assisted living community.
“The biggest takeaway is that there is now a choice. Seniors are changing how they choose where they want to live and what is important to them,” adds Will. “Seniors want excellent programming and the latest technology to be innate qualities of the daily life and culture of their community.”
About Belmont Village Senior Living:
Founded in Houston in 1997, Belmont Village is an integrated developer, owner, and operator of highest quality independent, assisted living and award-winning memory care communities for older adults. With more than 4,000 employees, Belmont Village communities are renowned for distinctive design; high standards of life safety; quality of care; and leading edge, award-winning programs. Belmont Village is certified as a Great Place to Work® and has been ranked since 2018 as one of FORTUNE Magazine’s 50 Best Workplaces for Aging Services. Learn more about Belmont Village at www.belmontvillage.com and on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
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