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February 24, 2024

Adapting Assisted Living for an Aging Population

Category: Aging In Place

Author: Heather Hiba, 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 Vitalia Montrose, 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 adapt to the aging population with more complex and extended chronic care issues include educating the staff that will be caring for the residents with chronic care needs. Understanding the disease process for these conditions will help the staff know what the resident is going through, and they can work through their strengths while providing care.

We can prepare and educate our staff to care for a population with more significant needs with general education on the most common diseases. If someone comes in with a new diagnosis, we find education and talk about these things in town hall meetings so the entire staff has an idea of the best things to do for the resident.

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 explain to each department employee the importance of watching out for these changes. During orientation, I go over changes in conditions and how they look for each department. Servers could see a change in how much the resident is eating. A housekeeper might notice them lying in bed longer than usual, or their hygiene may change.

Communication is key! 

Once a change is identified, the appropriate next step is to report it to the nurse so the nurse can take the necessary steps to figure out what is happening with the resident. By noticing things quickly and reporting them quickly, we can tackle the problem before it gets out of hand.

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.

VITALIA® Montrose in Copley, OH offers independent senior apartments, assisted living, and memory care with a variety of services and a range of floor plan options. Amenities include restaurant dining, 24-hour bistro, concierge service, housekeeping, events and entertainment, personal care, transportation services, and more. Centrally located near Cleveland Clinic with convenient access to major shopping centers and attractions, including Mud Run Golf Course and Driving Range, Summit Mall, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Summit County Metro Park, Stan Hywet, and Hale Farm.

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