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February 23, 2024

Adapting Assisted Living for an Aging Population

Category: Wellness

Author: Blair Nikes, Director of Wellness

As the global population ages, it will bring both opportunities and challenges for senior living. The projected number of Americans aged 65 and older is expected to double from 46 million to over 98 million by 2060. It will be the first time in history the number of older adults outnumbers children under age five. In addition, older adults will live longer than ever before. One out of every four 65-year-olds today will live past age 90. These remarkable gains are due to improved public health, better nutrition, and better healthcare.

With many people now expected to live into their nineties or beyond, there will be many new challenges and questions to answer. Even though people are living longer, they are not necessarily living healthier. The nature of the assisted living prospect has changed dramatically over the past 15 years, with even greater changes to come. The senior living industry, including The Burlington Creek Senior Living, will need to consider ways to adapt to residents with more complex and extended chronic care needs.

Some ways to adapt to residents with more complex needs include additional staff training. Not only will staff need the skills to care for residents progressing in their disease processes, but they will also need to understand how to quickly identify changes in their condition. Being proactive in this effort will allow teams to provide the care the residents need precisely when they need it.

Third-party vendors will be crucial to helping our assisted living staff be proactive. 

The following will be crucial for caring for a resident population:

  • with increasing care needs
  • trusted and reliable home health providers
  • rehab therapy teams
  • medical providers
  • behavioral health services

These vendors provide resident-specific care needed to help older adults continue to thrive in the assisted living environment.

Director of Wellness Discusses Caring for an Aging Population

Some strategies that will help us to adapt to the aging population with more complex and extended chronic care issues include connecting with and utilizing outside resources. These resources can help educate and support the residents, families, and staff, enhancing the quality of care provided. This approach will enable all care parties to understand the specific disease process better and identify highlighted comorbidities during this time.

We can prepare and educate our staff to care for a population with greater needs through hands-on training and demonstration. Teaching the team to understand the “whys” and the “why not” is crucial. Additionally, allowing staff to ask questions and express thoughts regarding the situation fosters a deeper understanding and engagement.

It is more important than ever to take a proactive approach when a change in condition occurs with a resident. To ensure our teams recognize even small changes within residents, we must update care plans to reflect current needs and care. We should also complete and review documentation regularly. Also, it would be essential to keep communication with families and providers to gain insight into their observed changes. There should be orders in place to support and manage changes that occur.

Communication is key! 

Once staff identify a change, they document it and report it to the lead/charge nurse. They also update the Director of Wellness and communicate with the family and providers. Staff discuss future needs and options, update the team on new orders, and note changes. Additionally, they make the team aware of symptoms/behaviors/concerns to watch for and educate staff on continued documentation.

Caring for a sicker population in an assisted living setting is a challenging issue that requires a multifaceted approach. Aging in place is an important goal for an older adult and should also be a priority of the senior living industry. To meet this goal, we must ensure we can fulfill the needs of our aging residents.

PrairieStone Senior Living is a comprehensive community soon to be offering independent living plus, assisted living, and memory care, accompanied by an array of services and floor plan options. Our amenities include restaurant dining, outdoor and private dining, a 24-hour bistro, concierge service, housekeeping, events and entertainment, personal care, a salon and barber, transportation services, a patio and firepit, and more. Our community extends beyond our campus, providing residents with the opportunity to explore the local downtown area, featuring charming shops and restaurants. Nature enthusiasts can visit the picturesque George Wyth State Park for nature walks and birdwatching or enjoy the stunning scenery along the Cedar River. Cultural events and festivals, such as the Cedar Basin Jazz Festival and Sturgis Falls Celebration, offer even more opportunities for engagement. PrairieStone residents have convenient access to a wealth of adventures and activities, both within and outside the community.

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