By Alex Russell
In your ‘senior’ years, where will you live? What will you do? What will be your biggest needs? Because Americans are living longer, we have seen many changes in how life goes on in ‘senior’ years. Not everyone has the same needs, wants and desires. Luckily for those in the greater Falls Church area the options are numerous.
How exactly is a senior defined? “Seniors” are a hot topic as the American population continues to age. Some define a ‘senior’ as someone over the age of 55, while others note that the word ‘senior’ should be adjusted to today’s standards. One hundred years ago, the life expectancy was only 60 years. Today many Americans can expect to not only reach 60 but live long past that reaching their 80th and even their 90th or 100th birthdays. With that said not all communities are right for everyone.
There are many factors that come into play as you age. Is it you and your spouse? Just you, or maybe it is your parents or a loved one? How do you have the talk or start the process with transitioning your house or a family member to Senior living?
This can be a very sensitive subject. The best approach is to gather as much information as possible. Start by researching different Senior Living communities in your area that offer the services you or your loved one need. Try to get the timing right and wait for the right time to bring up the subject of moving into Senior Living. Be patient when bringing up the topic of moving into senior living. Don’t be discouraged, as there are many options for everyone.
Finally, consider scheduling a meeting with a retirement home representative so you or your loved one can understand the term ‘Senior Living Community. What exactly does that mean?
“Senior living community” is a broad term that defines communities designed to suit various types of lifestyles. That could include medical care, independent/retirement living, assisted living, and memory care facilities.
Within Independent living are age-restrictive communities. These options include communities with more freedom such as Founders Row “Verso” in Falls Church which caters to 55 plus and is expected to open this summer.
Verso Founders Row defines itself as “centrally located in picturesque Falls Church, VA, providing you with a unique space and community to call your own while placing you within a dynamic, mixed-use retail destination with something new to discover every day of the week. Dwelling spaces are feature-rich, emphasizing smart technology and accessibility.”
Why would retired local homeowners move into Founders Row? Shari Kane, former Fairfax school teacher, along with her husband and dog, Chewie, was ready to downsize so they sold their big home after 30 plus years and looked around City. She said they chose Founders Row for various reasons like location, the brand new building, and the fact it is pet friendly:
“We love it here; the apartment is wonderful, plenty of room, the amenities are fantastic, the staff is wonderful and everyone loves our dog Chewie…..it’s a great place to live and we get to walk to most places around here.” Shari and her husband and Chewie moved into the Modera building although they are over 55 because Verso was under construction. Verso, the 55 plus apartment building at Founders Row is scheduled to open in Summer 2022.
And Verso states “It’s not downsizing- it’s rightsizing! With Its spacious amenity areas and full-time lifestyle director, you have the freedom to live your next chapter exactly how you’d like.”
Then there is The Mather in centrally located Tysons Corner which caters to 62 plus and boasts they are “at the intersection of luxury, sophistication, convenience, and comfort.”
Along with extensive amenities, services and programs, they also are a Life Plan Community, which is an age-restricted, retirement residence where people live independently, with additional health care services available should the need ever arise. Life Plan communities offer the added peace of mind to help seniors “age in place.”
While other ‘Seniors’ may need some more features and access to healthcare this is the next phase which we will define as “assisted living.” This phase can be defined as a residence for those with disabilities who require help with some of the routines of daily living as well as access to medical care when needed.
Paragon Assisted Living is a local Assisted Living Facility with locations in Falls Church and McLean. Juan Tuason of Paragon discovered, “Home care is not the solution for everybody, especially for people without family members” nearby. Even though a person gets the necessary physical and medical assistance and guidance, Tuason stresses that this is “not the same as social interaction and engagement.”
“Most of the people” who arrive at Tuason’s care centers are those “who tend to get lost in the shuffle” of those bigger facilities. Paragon’s “niche,” as Tuason explains, lies in providing a “personal atmosphere” for their residents, while simultaneously addressing their cognitive or mobility-related issues.
One thing that Tuason expressed pride in was the fact that a resident will not miss breakfast even if they tend to wake up later than others. There is not one overarching time frame in place for all residents which dominates activities like the taking of medication or when meals take place, so the nuances that are present in an individual’s day-to-day routines are maintained and nurtured.
For Tuason, one of the main goals for Paragon is “operating true homes,” and “not just facilities.” (www.paragonhomecare.com)
Rembrandt Assisted Living is another senior living facility that offers assisted living. René Willems, the owner-operator of Rembrandt Assisted Living, shares a passion for making sure his residents get exactly the care and attention they need on an individual basis. Willems’ assisted living center combines his decades of experience in the fields of physical therapy and geriatric home care, as well as his wife’s background in the hospitality business, into a senior living environment that supports the individuality and freedom of each resident.
Rembrandt Assisted Living “is not a nursing home” or “a health care facility,” with many of the residents there already benefiting from their own health care provider. “We’re not taking over their lives,” says Willems. “They’re their own person with their own life.”
However, Willems’ set-up provides a variety of important amenities, helping residents with their “shopping, cooking…laundry” as well as with whatever problems they may have with carrying out the various “activities of daily living.”
Residents get assistance with their medication, as well as with “getting up…moving around…taking a bath in a safe way,” among many other facets of daily life. The facility is “monitored 24/7” and benefits from a “home doctor and geriatric specialist.” (https://www.rembrandtassistedliving.com)
Another senior care assisted living facility is Chesterbrook Residences. Chesterbrook prides itself on offering beautiful views while maintaining an active assisted living community. It offers cultural pursuits, exercise, shopping trips, music, and the option of sitting by the fireplace. Residents can choose from one- or two-bedroom apartments and there are four levels of personalized care to ensure the right level of independence. They have on-site rehabilitation, access to licensed nurses 24/7 (chesterbrookres.org).
The last form of Senior living is Memory care facilities, which provide a safe, structured environment and offer routines to lower stress for people with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
One facility that offers memory care assistance is Goodwin House. Goodwin House, with two locations, one in Alexandria and the other in Bailey’s Crossroads, is a senior living and health care nonprofit center with a hospice program, a home health therapy program, an “aging in place” financial coverage program called Goodwin House at Home, and a brain health program developer serving older adults in Virginia.
Goodwin’s Lyndsay Hutter, Chief Strategist and Marketing Director emphasizes the importance of the StrongerMemory program offered at their residence. StrongerMemory is a curriculum designed to stimulate the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which governs the ability to retrieve memories. Whether the diagnosis is mild cognitive impairment or early-stage dementia, or simply wanting to ensure better brain health as we age, this innovative program is valuable too. Participants spend just 20 to 30 minutes a day engaged in simple reading, writing, and math activities (goodwinhouse.org).
Another Memory Care facility located right in the City is Kensington Falls Church. It offers two levels of memory care, which provides support to seniors with any degree of memory loss. Each tier addresses challenges unique to specific phases of disease progression. Connections is for residents coping with early to middle stages of loss, and Haven is for residents experiencing later stages. Both are secured environments, which provide 24-hour security that prevents unsafe wandering. Programs and activities focus on strengths, maximize comfort, and relieve anxiety. Also, ongoing support is available for families.
One type of Home Healthcare service for seniors that many are unaware of is in-home help. Home Instead, with an office right in Falls Church City, and another office in Annandale offers several types of health care services for folks in all stages of the aging process. They include everything from companionship, personal grooming assistance, Alzheimer’s and dementia care, hospice support, home helpers, and more (www.homeinstead.com).
So there is no shortage of senior living options in our area. Take the time to explore what is best for you or your loved one.
For more information about any of the facilities always ask questions and feel comfortable before making a final choice in your senior living decision!