In recent years, we tend to increasingly hear and see information about the so-called “Long-term care for adults” – a social service that has reversed the way we look at life after a certain age. When and why did the world actually change its vision of caring for the elderly, started talking about “assisted living” and put great attention when it comes to the environment in which our parents live their last years?
The idea was born in the 1980s in the United States, thanks to Dr. Karen Wilson. Her mother suffered a severe stroke and lived in a nursing home for several years but as soon as she began to recover, she realized that she could not continue her life there – not like others around her. Most nursing homes at this time are designed for people who are very old or are with advanced diseases and their lives are coming to an end. However, there was not suitable place for people like Dr.Wilson’s mother. She had the ability to care for herself, but not enough to live alone. She needs a place where she can feel at home but at the same time to have someone to take care of her and keep her company. In the late 1980s, Dr.Wilson created the first home for “assisted living” in the state of Oregon, USA. After the rapid and visible success of the establishment, the concept of this type of family-oriented homes “exploded”. In the 1990s, the assisted lifestyle spread widely throughout the United States until it became widely available. There are more than 40,000 nursing homes of this type in the country, and gradually Europe is looking to the inevitable success of the U.S.
Even today, the United States is seen as the top of the pyramid in terms of adult care and the services it offers. The country has a reputation as a leader in health care. Medical standards are among the highest in the worlds, and although there are cases in which other countries declare specialists as superior in a particular procedure or field of medicine, the United States is still considered the have the most qualified medical staff. In some of the most developed countries in the world including Japan and France, the elderly, who need more care and attention are admitted directly to hospital. The idea of centers or housing with the status “homes for the elderly” is still not widespread enough in these regions.
That is why we have chosen to show you some of the best examples in America, where nursing homes are synonymous with absolute care, attention, home atmosphere, activity, hobbies and most of all friendships. According to a 2019 article by Senior Housing News, the five “providers” of this type of service remain unchanged for 2019, and in recent years they are keeping the top positions with only brief exchange of the top places. In 2020, another study by the Global Marketing Information Services company J.D. Power measures the satisfaction of older people among the largest service providers. The first places are again occupied by the leaders Brookdale Senior Living, Senior Lifestyle, Five Star Senior Living. Satisfaction is measured by several factors including buildings and terrain, staff, dining room, price, paid services and activities.
Brookdale Senior Living
Brookdale has over 720 adult communities in 42 states. Nursing homes do not come down from the first place not only because they cover a huge area, but also because of the unsurpassed services in terms of memory care and the creation of communities in which people feel at home. Brookdale offers a variety of services for seniors such as:
• Independent lifestyle – suitable for older people who are still active.
• Assisted living – for older people who need help with daily tasks and activities.
• Memory care – for residents with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
• Qualified nurses – they offer short-term or long-term care for patients and residents.
• Hospice – special care for terminally ill people.
Brookdale Senior Living talks to each family to select the right level of care for their loved ones, with the team having comprehensive discussions and advices. It also helps families understand the financial costs of caring for the elderly by providing financial planning assistance.
Brookdale is valued in the first place in terms of services related to memory care and assisted lifestyle. In each area, the home for the elderly receives positive reviews aimed at the well-trained staff, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The calendar of residents with social activities is updated daily, including games that promote memory, cooking classes, gardening, music, etc. The lives of adults are improving every day, and the communities and friendships that are formed there are among the most impressive. The atmosphere in which they eat also has a strong impact on adults. One of the chefs at Brookdale said, “My first question is, “Where are you from?”, so I know what to offer him for lunch or dinner.” Simple and familiar things are important here to make you feel at home.
Right after Brookdale is the popular Senior Lifestyle. There are 170 communities in 27 states, again offering a modern, even luxurious atmosphere, an independent lifestyle for the more active among residents, as well as assistants, when needed. For Senior Lifestyle, the chosen locations are those that allow residents to walk, be in nature and practice their hobbies. Popular are the so-called walking clubs, which organize daily walks in the area. Some of the various activities are water aerobics, balance classes and yoga. Among the favorites are poetry clubs and writing courses.
Senior Lifestyle created the award-winning Embrace Memory Care program to help residents living with dementia or Alzheimer’s find more joy and connection in their lives. The program is based on the latest memory research and engages residents by creating moments that stimulate the senses and evoke ingrained activities in the brain to encourage interaction with the world around them and make them more independent in their choice of activities or food from the menu.
Atria Senior Living
“We help people live better together” – this is the motto of Atria senior Living, a popular company in Kentucky which operates in 25 more states and is not inferior to the other two that we introduced you to. The difference is that Atria communicated itself intensively as a community or a club of people who retire and naturally choose to change their home, rather than as a home for the elderly. A choice that seems difficult in our country in America resembles choosing a hotel or vacation for the next few years.
Billy Jean King, an American tennis legend, tells how and why she chose Atria for her own mother. She is among the millions of people around the world who can afford an assistant at home to take care of their loved one without being detached from the already familiar surroundings. But she is also among the millions who cannot provide their loved ones with a daily social environment, games that stimulate the brain and their cognitive skills and physical activities to improve their lifestyle. For years, Atria Senior Living has asked families if they prefer to help their loved ones cope with everyday life by dressing them, bathing them, feeding them, or wanting to spend time with them just as a family?
Family-type nursing home such as Atria, Brookdale, Senior Lifestyle and many more worldwide are increasing their residents and patients every year as more and more families see the need to give their parents a quality, dignified life and peaceful old age. Very rarely, especially in America, attention is drawn to the notion that an adults home is a place where you “dump” your loved one when you cannot take care of him or her alone.
In Bulgaria, Blocks is taking the first steps not only towards an environment of the American rank, but also towards a change in attitudes and opinions about family-type homes. They exist at the foot of Vitosha Mountain, are accessible and not inferior to foreign ones in terms of equipment, design, environment, far from the city, trained and qualified team, which is available around the clock. Services such as memory care, hospice, and soon rehabilitation, are available on the Blocks campus, following the latest trends.
Blocks is collaborating with the American “Shirley Ryan Ability” Hospital to develop a world-class rehabilitation center providing the highest quality clinical care and research. By all accounts, Shirley Ryan is the world’s number one rehabilitation center. It has been ranked as the No. 1 rehabilitation in the United States for 29 years in a row.
To meet global standards, Blocks is also collaborating with “Westbay Senior Living”, also among the most well-known adult service providers in the United States. It is led by Jim Biggs, a senior living veteran with more than 30 years of experience in adult life in the United States and China.
1 Senior Housing News, 2019, https://seniorhousingnews.com/2019/09/04/largest-senior-living-providers-list-grows-no-surprises-at-the-top/
2 JD Power, 2020, https://seniorhousingnews.com/2020/11/11/senior-lifestyle-brookdale-lcs-top-new-j-d-power-senior-living-rankings/