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More than 'Bingo'

POSTED: March 30, 2008 5:00 a.m.

As the administrator of a senior community in Richmond Hill, I have seen many families struggling with the important and life-changing decision concerning what type of community will best suit the desires and needs of their loved one. There are many aspects to take into consideration when choosing a community including cost, location, size of the apartment, safety, cleanliness, amenities and services. This decision is never taken lightly, and would probably be a little easier if it could be made based on only these factors listed above. But there is more to consider. What about the critical components that determine the quality of life in a senior community that are not as discernible? It would be a mistake to assume that most communities are pretty much the same when it comes to mission, daily life experiences and the quality of relationships with people who live and work there.

With so many choices, how do you determine which community is right for you? While some are very clear about what, how and why they do what they do, others are not. A strong sense of community is essential to rewarding life-experiences; and establishes trust among one another. As an extension of the United Methodist Church, and a practicing "Servant Leadership" organization, we embrace valuable characteristics such as Commitment, Honesty, Humility, Patience, Forgiveness, Kindness, Selflessness and Respectfulness. This belief holds us responsible for the way we treat both residents and staff day in and day out. It is the core of our foundation and success; and our Seniors’ readily identify with these traits.

There is more to a senior community than "Bingo!" Partnerships must be established with the local Fire & Safety Departments, Medical and Health organizations, Arts & Recreation Services, local businesses, churches and schools. Make sure the community you choose promotes a lifestyle that is designed to expose, enlighten and broaden peoples’ interests and accomplishments with intellectually, physically and spiritually stimulating experiences. This may include activities such as painting and acting classes, Bible study and music appreciation, Tai Chi and strength training. People want to be part of a community that is vibrant and filled with love, laughter and life.

A critical component to the quality of daily life is most definitely found in the staff. Staff that are well-informed, kind and happy, convey warmth and comfort to residents, which is especially reassuring during our older-adult years. It is important that an organization provide strong leadership for its staff; with advanced resources available to provide the highest quality of care. Make sure you meet a variety of employees from top to bottom. Length of service is a terrific indicator of a community’s commitment to train and support its employees.

While no senior community can completely take the place of family and friends, it can provide the kindness, love, support and encouragement that all people need and desire. Once you have determined which community will best serve your family’s needs, be sure to stay involved in the life of your loved one. Visit often and spend time – time is a key part of a successful transition into a senior community. Your mom may have a new mailing address and an exhilarating new chapter in her life; but the things she desires and needs from you will remain the same.



-Delong is the Director at Magnolia Manor




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