How to Connect to What Matters to Assisted Living Residents


Many potential residents are concerned and apprehensive about a move into senior living. They are worried that they may have to adapt to their new living environment in a way that is contrary to their lifestyle choices or personality.

It’s important for people to feel free to be themselves. If they are outgoing and friendly and want to interact with people, there are plenty of opportunities to do that. If they are more introspective and like solitary pursuits like reading or watching TV in their rooms, they will be able to do that without anyone nagging them to participate in activities they’re not interested in. The key is for them to feel comfortable and make the choices that are right for them. They want to feel comfort and feel they fit in. At Benchmark, residents get a say in how they live their daily lives.

Most communities offer activities and amenities suited to the older lifestyle. In independent living, the average age is 82, and many of the residents are on the go, living life the way they want. In assisted living, the average age is 87, and while they may need assistance with the activities of daily living, that doesn’t stop them from pursuing group activities and looking forward to the friendships they have formed with other residents.

The population is 80 percent female, but men are an important part of the community. There are lots of games and activities that meet their needs—and on any given night, there’s likely to be a sports game on TV that many of the women enjoy watching as well as the men. 

The people who staff senior living communities should have an affinity for their different personalities and backgrounds of the residents whom they are servicing. It’s important for them to realize that they will be interacting with individuals with varying levels of acuity and functionality. It’s helpful to get to know them as people—i.e., asking about their likes, dislikes, their families, their hobbies, their preferences about eating in the dining room or in their rooms, the activities they like to participate, whether they wish to go to religious services, whether they’re gregarious or like to keep to themselves.

Understanding these preferences will help staff members forge a better connection with residents, and it helps to make the resident’s experience at their senior living community more pleasant and fulfilling.

Stay tuned for more tips and insights at Open Conversations. 
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Content for Open Conversations was developed in partnership with Caregiving Advice.

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