The words “nursing home” often bring to mind thoughts of colorless, sterile and depressing environments. This stereotype couldn’t be further from the truth—especially when you consider the emergence of a new model of long-term care designed to maximize independence, dignity and personal choice among residents. How, specifically, are these senior living communities raising the bar when it comes to positive aging?
Read on for a roundup of five exciting—and unexpected—trends transforming the face of long-term care.
1. Personalized & Private Apartments
While traditional nursing homes offer round-the-clock care, this service often comes at a hefty price—loss of freedom and agency. In his book on aging and the inherent problems in long-term care, Being Mortal, Atul Gawande writes, “Our elderly are left with a controlled and supervised institutional existence, a medically designated answer to unfixable problems, a life designed to be safe but empty of anything they care about.”
Today’s sophisticated long-term care communities are responding to this concern with private and personalized apartments that consider not only seniors’ needs but also their preferences. Anything but institutional in feel, these living spaces offer a best-of-both-worlds option for seniors: all of the comforts of home with the safety and security of long-term care.
2. Versatile & High-Quality Dining
Between unappetizing cafeteria food, limited dining hours and uninviting eating areas, conventional nursing homes aren’t exactly known for their Michelin star-worthy cuisine. Factor in that proper nutrition supports the health and wellness of older adults, and a new approach to dining is clearly in order. Enter the latest trend in long-term care: serving nutritious and delicious meals where, when and how community members prefer them.
3. A Commitment to Socialization
Isolation is another common concern for senior living communities, and with good reason: More than 40 percent of older adults feel lonely, which increases the risk of serious health problems and even death, according to research from the University of California San Francisco.
Nursing home residents aren’t immune to this phenomenon. In fact, they may be especially vulnerable. “Loneliness is common in institutional settings and associates with poor self-rated health and psychological well-being as well as increased mortality,” concludes a study published in The Journal of Nursing Home Research.
The good news? It doesn’t have to be this way. The newest breed of long-term care communities does away with strict visiting hours and instead cultivates ongoing opportunities for socialization among members. These meaningful relationships with old and new friends, family members and staff have a multitude of benefits, including reduced stress, greater self-esteem, improved cognitive function, and even longer lifespan.
4. A Push for Lifelong Learning & Doing
We’ve all heard the expression, “Use it or lose it.” This phrase is especially applicable to senior living—which is why forward-thinking long-term care communities make sure community members have plenty of chances to experience new things through classes, activities, excursions and guest speakers from arts and cultural organizations.
These opportunities have lasting benefits. Says psychologist Denise Park in her research on the value of trying new things to keep aging minds sharp, “It is important to get out and do something that is unfamiliar and mentally challenging, and that provides broad stimulation mentally and socially. When you are inside your comfort zone, you may be outside of the enhancement zone.”
5. Concierge Services
While conventional nursing homes may take a one-size-fits-all approach to senior care, one of the most exciting trends in long-term care acknowledges their different wants, needs, and preferences by bringing specialized services to their door. From assistance with errands and transportation to personal shopping and salon treatments, concierge services take senior living to the next level.
Thanks to these five person-centered trends in long-term care, the outlook has never looked brighter for older adults and the people who love them. To learn more about senior living in Cincinnati and how Marjorie P. Lee can help your aging loved ones maintain their quality of life in their golden years, contact us today. It’s never too early to get on our waitlist!