The face of aging in independent and assisted living communities has changed dramatically over the past decade. Once joining a senior living community was a choice that freed an older adult from the responsibilities of home ownership, cooking and housekeeping, and provided activities and opportunities for socialization. Today, the movement in aging leans towards ‘aging in place,’ resulting in more seniors joining independent and assisted living communities when they are significantly older, have chronic medical needs, or are transferred after a hospital stay.
Assisted living populations today are characterized by seniors “over age 85, according to government data,” as noted in the NY Times article Where There’s Rarely a Doctor in the House by Paula Span, 3/29/19. Nearly two thirds of the senior population need help with daily living tasks and many are experiencing cognitive decline from Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Due to the advanced age and health conditions of assisted living residents, consistent medical attention is required to help mitigate escalation of common illnesses, as well manage the chronic illnesses and cognitive challenges that a resident may have.
Many independent and assisted living senior communities require residents to have their own healthcare providers and community administrators are primarily responsible for organizing transportation for residents to appointments when family or care providers are not available to do so. With older and more infirm residents in assisted living communities, this limited scope of senior health care services creates many challenges for residents.
Residents may have varying abilities with which to communicate with their healthcare providers, to schedule and remember healthcare appointments, and manage multiple prescription medications. Prescription misuse or non-use, accidents due to cognitive decline, undiagnosed fevers, flu or pneumonia often results in calls to emergency services and hospitalization. Without daily assistance from family caregivers or other private senior care providers, residents in assisted living communities often do not receive the healthcare attention that they require.
Green Hill’s Catered Independent and Assisted Living communities offer more, building on the strengths of the traditional senior living social model with an effective ability to meet health concerns over time. The interdisciplinary team of professionals are engaged in a robust, continuous care and quality improvement system of measures that support aging in place, keeping hospitalizations to a low level of 5%.
“It has not been common practice for independent and assisted living communities to have medical staff on site,” says Donna Lazartic, Executive Director-President of Green Hill Senior Living in West Orange, NJ. “We are one of the few senior living communities in our area to have 24-hour nursing staff on site and credentialled general and specialty physicians in regular attendance to serve chronic or emergent health issues and monitor the mental and physical health of our residents.”
Green Hill’s enhanced admission process includes assessments that align with the complexity of an incoming resident’s clinical needs and provide insight into who the resident is — what their goals are, what a “good day” looks like to them, and how the individual’s needs are best met.
Families are comforted knowing their loved ones can age in place with a full continuum care model and reside in Catered Independent and Assisted Living longer as medical, clinical and care needs increase. Green Hill has a strong focus on a safe and seamless transitions of senior care services, and of supporting residents with dementia. Green Hill provides physical, occupational and speech therapies to maintain independence, advance care planning including palliative and hospice care, management of changes in medical condition and effective response to emergencies.
Green Hill’s person-centered care culture is committed to addressing loneliness, helplessness, and boredom, including counseling and support that recognizes the many losses older adults often endure. The staff is caring and supportive with a staff/resident ratio higher than industry standards. Residents enjoy a lifestyle that includes a choice of studio, one and two-bedroom suites with private baths, award-winning dining services, activities and trips, and the freedom to craft their own daily schedule.