When you retire, you want to make sure you choose a senior living option that is the right fit for your lifestyle and your needs. While some seniors are ready to jump right into the next chapter of their lives, others might require a certain level of care to make that a reality. This is the perfect time to explore which living option is best for you and if you may need more assistance. 

In our webinar, Senior Living LIVE! Exploring the Differences Between Independent Living and Assisted Living, we examine the similarities and differences between the two senior living options, in hopes of helping seniors and their families navigate this important decision. 

In this video, Brooke Figueras, Associate Executive Director of The Arbor at BridgeMill, joins us to share a preview for this webinar, and give a quick overview of the main differences between independent and assisted living.

Click above to watch the preview now, and be sure to register for the full webinar by visiting ArborCompany.com/Differences.


Video Transcript

- Hello everyone, and welcome into "Senior Living Live." My name is Melissa, we appreciate you watching, as always, and we thank those of you who are listening via podcast, as well. Thank you so much for finding us. We are going to take a closer look at our upcoming webinar, entitled "Exploring the Differences Between Independent and Assisted Living." You can catch this webinar September 23rd at 4:00 PM Eastern time. And somebody who knows quite a lot about this topic and has visited with many seniors who have had to make the decision between the two different living styles is Brooke Figueras. Brooke, how are you today?

- I'm great, thanks so much for having me.

- Yeah, you are definitely a wealth of knowledge. We're gonna learn a little bit about you here in just a second, but you are working currently at an Arbor community that pretty much runs the gamut of all different kinds of living styles, from assisted living to independent living to your memory care. So tell us a little bit about yourself, how long you've been with the Arbor Company and what you do for the Arbor Company.

- Sure, thank you so much. So I have had the privilege of working with the Arbor Company for just over four years, which has been absolutely wonderful. I am the associate executive director here and help to lead our sales team, as well. So I do quite a bit over here at the community, so hopefully, I'm able to help quite quite a few people in the process. I have had the privilege, as well, of being in this industry since 2003. Right out of college, I jumped right in. I knew this is exactly what I wanted, and I have been the manager of, or I guess the activities director. I have helped with the move in process. I have been the sales director and now the associate executive director. So I get to-- I've had an opportunity to see so many different aspects of community living for seniors, and it's just been absolutely wonderful. I love it.

- And this is why we get to tap into your knowledge. And you were, what, 12 when you started? Thanks for that.

- But I mean, you know, we're talking almost 20 years of experience here, and so Brooke, I do want to go back maybe 20, 30 years ago, and there just were not as many options then as there are now for senior living, and a lot of people, I tend to find, and you maybe have this too, they had this idea of what senior living used to be like, and they all think that that's what it is like today, but I think it's anything but that 20, 30 years ago. It's completely different now. How would you describe senior living to somebody that walks in, right now?

- That's a great question, and it's something that I find so many people come in with. Even the apprehension of walking through the door, talking to family members, they're wanting to know, "How do we convince my mom?" because her only experience was with her grandmother so many years ago. And I let them know, thankfully I can say that almost 20 years ago, I did start in this, and so I know exactly what people are talking about. Then, while there were some that had a little more activity, most of them were, it was just a place to come. They were fed, they were bathed and dressed and that was it. There really wasn't a lot more to that, unfortunately. It was just making sure their day-to-day care needs were met and some of them had more of a hospitalized environment instead of a home environment. And what I love is that the progression, the evolution of how things have grown in retirement living is that it's now more of a home, to the point where what we have here at BridgeMill is more of a resort, so it gives a totally different feel. The number of times people walk in and say, "Oh my goodness, I had no idea this existed." See, that's what I'm so excited to share with you. I can also say that when I had first started, everything was all in one. So we had, at one of my very first communities, we had people who were independent, but they needed just a little bit of help, that's why they were there, to those who needed full-on assisted living, help with their activities of daily living and some that had true dementia and Alzheimer's, and everybody was together in one environment, and even down to the food, everybody ate the exact same thing. They had no choices, and this is it and you're gonna sit here, and everybody had assigned seats, and it just was very different. Where here, it doesn't matter what neighborhood you're in, there's freedom in it. And I love that one of the things that is so important, especially with the Arbor, and you'll have to forgive me, I may get emotional because I'm just so passionate about this, but no matter what neighborhood somebody's in, we want to enable them to be, empower them to be as independent as possible, even through to our memory care. It is so important that our residents have that freedom, and they're able to do that, whether it's the cottages, the independent apartments, assisted living or memory care. So it is vastly different than where I started years ago.

- Yeah, so you have companies that put this in place, like Arbor, but then you have the staff that really specializes that particular living situation, wherever you happen to be. So, as we touch on that part of it, what really is the difference between assisted living and independent living?

- Great question, so independent is really that. It's independent. We encourage an environment that is very carefree and maintenance-free. People are no longer having to worry about the maintenance of their house or their yard, or even going to the grocery store and preparing meals. Like I mentioned earlier, it's more of a resort-style living. So they come down to our restaurant, they get a menu, they order from that and are served each day. They can enjoy any of the multitude of amenities that we have to offer. They can come and go and enjoy life. It's just an environment that allows them to be around other people that are of like ages. We are 55 or better, and we have the gamut. We have people that are in their fifties, and we have people that are in their nineties, and they're all, you know, they can be an independent as well, and it's amazing to see that, and all the options that they have. Again, it's very independent. We have some added oversight for them, but it's not, they don't really feel that as much. They just know they don't have to cook and clean if they don't want to. We offer transportation for them, but they really have great freedoms in our independent living. In assisted living, assisted living, if true, is where they get more support. So true assisted living is support with the activities of daily living, bathing, dressing, grooming, going to the restroom, medication management, three meals a day, snacks throughout the day, reminders to go to those things. So it's people that can help to redirect them, if necessary. They're not to the point of needing one-on-one care by any means, they still have freedoms, but it's more of a, "Let me just help you throughout the day. Let me be there in case you need something." We have a button they can push to say, "Hey, can you come help me with this stuff?" And so, whatever it may be, they have that support. So that's our assisted living. And then our memory care is gonna be our highest level of oversight, the residents that can't tell us what they need. And so we anticipate those needs for them, and then they're in an environment that's secure so that they can't harm themselves by walking out the door and not knowing how to return, that type of thing. So I hope that helps.

- Oh, absolutely. And we are starting to find that our seniors who are looking at retirement are becoming more and more educated, so we're starting to see the questions like, "Where do I fit into these neighborhoods?" And the cool thing is, because your community offers all three of those, you can really choose one, and if it doesn't work out or you need less help, you can choose independent, you can then move to assisted living when you need a little bit more help, and then a couple of years down the road, you can move to memory care, and it's all under one building, and that's, I think, the beauty of all of this. So when we talk about the different neighborhoods, which I'm sure are a lot of questions that you get, what are some of the other concerns that you hear from people who are coming in for a tour and how do you guys address them?

- One of the biggest ones, especially lately, is safety. People are looking for a safe environment. They want to know that they're coming in somewhere that, that their needs are being met, but that they're going to feel secure. And again, that's any, any one of the neighborhoods. They want that. A lot of them are coming from being by themselves and they are kind of tired of being alone and coming into an environment with being around people helps them to feel more safe because they know that there are others looking out for them. So that's a really big one. Another one of course is having the socialization. They want to know that there's going to be a lot of activity. There are a lot of opportunities for them to meet other people. So how many people do you have here? How many are in this neighborhood? Will I see them often? They want to know those types of things, how they can interact. That's a big one, but they love, as you mentioned, having the freedom to know that they can stay home. And that's what we want this to be for them, that this is home. So regardless of where they may lay their head at night, which neighborhood that it is, if they do need that added support, they're not losing their home. They're not losing the relationships that they have built for so long and the comforts that they have. And so knowing that they can truly age in place here is huge. And I do want to just share an extra little aside that has been so amazing. Arbor at BridgeMill, we've been here, we'll be celebrating forty years. It's amazing all the different people that have come through and the support we've been able to offer people that they come in and they may need a little bit more because they didn't realize that they were-- their health needs were not being attended to like they thought on their own. And so they came to an independent, came to our assisted living, excuse me, and got that support, got stronger and have come back into an independent environment. And the fact that we've been able to do that for a number of our residents has been truly one of the greatest compliments ever, to know that they come in needing that help, they get exactly what they need, and then they're able to thrive even more in an independent environment because they got that extra help. So while that doesn't happen with everybody, by any means, the fact that we've had so many that that's that's occurred for has just been such a blessing.

- I think that's actually the first time I've heard that, in terms of any of the communities. So it's really boots on the ground who gets to see it every day, like yourself, that can bring up these examples. How fantastic is that? That is just amazing. I'm hearing that for the first time and my mind is blown. That usually it, it never goes backwards. It always moves forward with the need of care. That is amazing, Brooke. And that is again, a testament to not only what's provided there at BridgeMill, but to the staff as well, that has certainly helped them get there.

- And that is one thing I do want to make sure that I add, as people are considering, you are asking, what are the things that they're looking for? I will tell you, it's not the bricks and mortar. It's not the floor plans. It's not those things. It is how do they feel? When they walk out of our community, we want them to go, oh my gosh, did you feel that? That was so different? There was something, I got to go back. This is what I want. This is what I'm looking for. But it's only because of the people that are here. They are the ones that truly make the difference. And I genuinely feel like this is a true family here, between all of our team members and the residents alike. It's just, it's wonderful. I love coming to work every day.

- I love that. And you can almost use that as a checklist, right? So, how does it feel? If somebody wants to go on a tour and they're like, well, how do I know this is the right place? Well, one, probably number one, is how does it make you feel when you walk in the door every day? Maybe what are some of a couple of other key tips you can provide?

- The cleanliness is huge. When you walk into a place, the temperature, not necessarily of the air, but of the, again, the people. It's what do you see when you come around? And so that's a big one. So visually, everything. You know, we want it to be clean. We want it to be inviting. We want people to look over at our library and say, "oh, I'm going to grab that book and go sit down over there." Or this looks like a great place to sit and enjoy doing a puzzle, or just finding areas that they look at, they are, they see and say, "I want to sit there. I want to be a part of that." But either way, it's all about what it looks like home, or feels like home. So I mentioned resort-style feel, and we want that for the lack of necessity to do things, to take care of things. Let us do that part, but we want it to feel home-like so that you go, "this is where I can relax. This is where I can be with my, my friends and family and invite them to be a part of it." So again, it's, it's how that ambiance feels. Smell is huge, making sure that it's fresh. You know, those are things that people don't necessarily notice. You don't notice it unless it's negative. And so those are things you do want to pay attention to and make sure that it is pleasant when you go in. And, again, I'm going to say, number one is going to be, how does it feel when you're going around? I know that that is so repetitive, but that's ultimately what feels like home to you when you're going through. And oh, another one I will say is the availability of people. So I know that it's all in how people feel, but how accessible does the team seem to be? Had the lead, the leaders there, the managers, how accessible do they appear to be for you? Are you meeting them when you're on your tours? Are you running into them? How are they greeting you with everything? So just wanting to be able to kind of take all of that into account because you want to know that if something comes up, that it will be addressed and it you'll be able to do that comfortably.

- Absolutely, 100%. And if people want to know that they're getting their money's worth, right? Absolutely. Well, I know you and Jerry Rick, who is the executive director there at the community, you both will be available for this webinar to answer questions, which I think is huge. It's why we do these webinars, to allow people to anonymously, or even not so anonymously, to be a part of a conversation, ask questions, and then maybe get around to making those phone calls if they want to, and then go on tours. But they can be a part of this and get some questions answered from the comfort of their own home. And if they end it there, so be it. if they don't and they want to come by and visit, fantastic. So you will both be available to answer the questions, but if somebody wants to get in touch with you now, Brooke, and they have some questions about independent living, assisted living, even memory care, how can they get in touch with you?

- There are a couple of different ways and that, again, something I want to be accessible for anybody that has those. A lot of times it is just being open to asking and preparing them, preparing themselves to even consider coming in. So our phone number, and can I give that?

- Sure.

- Okay. 770-691-0022. We'll get you directly to our concierge's desk and then that way, if I'm not available, one of my other sales team members would be available. Jerry of course will be available. So absolutely call the number or you can email me. Yeah, I'm happy for you to email me. And so my email address, you want me to spell it out? Okay. It's bfigueras. It's kind of tough but it's B, F as in Frank, I-G-U-E-R-A-S as in Sam, @arborcompany.com. So feel free to email me. I want to be a resource. Anything that I can do to help people out, feel free to call me or email.

- Fantastic. And you have certainly been a wealth of knowledge for us today. We absolutely appreciate you taking the time. We look forward to seeing you and Jerry Ricks, September 23rd, at 4:00 PM Eastern. Again, the webinar is called "Exploring the Differences between Independent Living and Assisted Living." Brooke, we will see you then.

- Thank you.

- Thank you. And for those interested in attending this webinar, you can head on over to www.seniorlivinglive.com. There you can register to be a part of the webinar, and while you're there, you might as well check out the rest of our video content and our audio content, all about senior living. We appreciate you watching Senior Living Live, and we look forward to seeing you September 23rd. Have a great day, everybody.

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