Meet the Director of Sales at Opus East Memphis, Kim Tanner. Kim helps us understand the differences between  independent living and assisted living and which one may be right for you. The Arbor lifestyle ensures that residents can focus on enjoying their retirement and not worrying about tasks like cooking, cleaning, and transportation while we provide the right amount of support for your needs.

Video Transcript

Hi everyone. Welcome to another episode of Senior Living Live. My name is Mary Cate Spires and I am joined today with Kim Tanner, the director of Sales at one of our upcoming communities, Opus East Memphis.

Hello Mary Cate, it's great to be with you.

Thank you for joining.

My pleasure.

All right. So we have a lot of things to talk about. All right. Very excited. Before we get into everything, can you just tell me a little bit about yourself, your background, and kind of how you ended up where you are?

Oh, of course, I'd love to. So I was born and raised in Michigan, and I. I feel like I fell into senior living way back in 2006. I was I had been a stay at home mom after college and then after having our children. And it was time for me to go back to the workforce. And an opportunity arose at a not for profit organization only 10 minutes from our home.

And they were looking for an assistant, which I had gone to school for. And so I, I joined for the very first time a not for profit organization. And, and it happened to be senior living. And so this is a company who'd been serving seniors for more than 100 years. And they had the full continuum of care on their campus. And so I wear many hats for them. I was with them for 11 years. And so through that process, I got a chance to learn development, fundraising, and then I got my first taste of marketing and I kind of went crazy about it. So marketing for me was that piece where I said, You're going to pay me to talk to people. And so I really got involved in, in the marketing piece and explaining what Senior living is to brand new folks that were coming on to the campus. And so from there, I grew a little more and became a sales counselor and then an events coordinator and then I worked in activities for them, too. So, wore many hats, but had a great relationship with that company. And so then from there I started working at a for profit company as an executive director, and that was assisted living in memory care. And then I was with them for a couple of years and then moved on to another company who then had independent living with assisted living and memory care. So grew as an executive director and most recently had an opportunity to kind of come back to my role in sales and marketing, which is my heart. I love people. I love seniors, working with families, and it's been a wonderful experience. I've been with the Arbor Company for just under a year, coming close on being here my first year. And I just I love we fit so well together. The Arbor Company is very just very accomplished, very understanding of the senior and what our residents need in our communities. And so it has been a beautiful relationship for me to partner with the Arbor Company and for me to learn more about what we have to offer. So I'm I'm coming up on quite a few years in senior living and I love everything about it.

So you're the perfect person to talk to today. You have great experience with it. Thank you. And I'm so glad you touched a lot on the continuum of care, different options with senior living. And that's what I want to talk to you the most about today... is we get a lot of questions from our audience. We have a lot of content on our website that is viewed quite a bit. And I really want to get your take on it typically specifically around what options are available at senior living communities. And I know here at Opus we have independent living, assisted living and memory care. We do. So let's just start at the beginning. Tell me, what is independent living?

It's a great question. And for most folks, they don't. When they think about senior living as a whole, the the the verbiage that we use, some of the words that we use are buzzwords in our industry and they're not comfortable in everyday conversation. So it's really important that we can speak to that and that we can help folks understand better what we're talking about. So, when you're looking at independent living, you're saying, I am a senior, typically 55 or better. You're a person who has decided I'm at a place in my life where there are things I don't want to have to worry about anymore. You're going to hear from some folks I don't want to cook anymore. You're going to hear from others. I was I was tired of having my house control everything about how I spend my time, how I spend my money, the things I need to keep up on. It's exhausting. And I don't want to do it anymore. You hear from folks who say it was time to downsize. I wanted to give my children this gift of making this decision, downsizing from the home I've been in for a while, moving into an apartment or in our case, a cottage, and ultimately deciding what I wanted to do with my retirement. And so independent living are folks who could live anywhere they choose to live, do anything they want to do, but they choose a lifestyle and and a community that fits their needs, meets their needs, and gives them an opportunity to enjoy their retirement. So you're looking at things being included as so as far as food maintenance to whatever, whether it's an apartment or a cottage that they've chosen, you're going to have all of your utilities included. You're going to have housekeeping. And not that you need these things, it's that you choose these things. So when you're looking at independent living, it's really about choosing a lifestyle that's providing you with the things that you might not want to spend your time doing. Check it off. The list is already taking care of. You know, you notice something going wrong in your apartment, you place a phone call, they do a work order and maintenance comes and takes care of it on your behalf. You don't have to worry about the aging piece of your apartment or anything else because it's already been planned for you. And so that's really what Independent looks like Now, independent growth, too, as we age, as we're seniors, there are things that perhaps you can't do anymore. Perhaps you've chosen not to drive anymore. Independent living offers you transportation. It offers you engaging opportunities. So fill your time with what you like doing, whether it's taking up a new hobby or spending time doing something you've always enjoyed and and put it all together with a nice little bow that I've got these other extra amenities too. So technically, very briefly, that's independent living.

I love it. I love it. We were just talking earlier about how much I hate to drive.

Yes. Done right. Get rid of it.

Yes. Yes. No, I as soon as I learned about independent living, I was ready to to move in as soon as I can. I think it's such a great option for anyone really takes the load off. It’s worry free.

We have so many adult children who say, How soon can I move in here? I would like to have someone clean my house for me. I would love to have an executive chef preparing my meals. And so it's a lifestyle that that our residents deserve, that our residents have looked forward to. And it's something that their adult children appreciate as well.

Yes, absolutely. All right. So we understand independent living. Tell me about assisted living.

So a lot of folks will think automatically, well, if I'm leaving my home, it's clearly because I need assistance or assisted living. What the best way to describe assisted living is to consider the activities of daily living. In the industry, we may refer to this as an ADL activity of daily living, and that's at a point in your life when you realize that I could use a little assistance in the things that I'm doing on a daily basis. So typically assisted living automatically includes three meals a day. Assisted living, typically includes weekly housekeeping. It could include, you know, tidying up a room. It includes laundry services. So you're not carrying that heavy load of laundry to the laundry room, taking it from the washer and the dryer, folding it yourself. Those things are taken care of for you. Assisted living is a place where we assess a resident for the needs that they have to be to be helped with those activities of daily living or ADLs beyond those included pieces. And now we say, Now let me help you with care. So we meet with the resident, we assess what needs might be, but might be necessary. Perhaps it’s medication management. Perhaps it is little reminders of things that you want to do and where you should be and what time things start. It could be helping you with dressing or undressing or getting up and ready in the morning. It could be that you've had a temporary setback because you've had a knee replacement, a hip replacement, and you need some assistance as you get stronger. And so those residents that live in assisted living are likely receiving some care. We call it a care plan. And the care plan is then followed by the care staff, which is managed by our nurses, who are the ones who help with the medication management and make sure that our residents are taken care of in that way. So at the assisted living level, you're receiving some form of assistance or care to be successful in your life. You stay independent that way. By receiving those helps that you need specifically for your care. And then on the back side of that, we do have once you hit the age of 80, there's a chance that there could be a dementia involved. And so we work with folks. It is very common to be in assisted living. It's very common to be in senior living and have a form of dementia. And so as folks age and they have a dementia diagnosis, they may someday need memory care. So memory care is under the the umbrella of assisted living licensing. And those residents then also receive a secure environment. So we're not concerned about location. And if someone is exploring something new that they're also safe in their environment. And so the memory care portion includes programming specific for those residents that need a little bit more assistance and help with their memories as well as a secure environment.

And I want you to speak a little bit, too. You know, we talked about independent living and how there's all these fun things to do, but that doesn't stop when you get to assisted living.

You're exactly right. In fact, it oftentimes happens in assisted living. The living spaces tend to be a bit smaller. And I was talking with a resident's family a couple of weeks ago and I said, please don't think about that apartment as being the only space you use. The entire community is your home. And we look at our residents resting in their apartment, sleeping in their apartment, but living in the community and so all day long there is something exciting to do, something that you look forward to doing. We will be planning our, and most places planned, their activities around the residents that live there. So for us here at Opus East Memphis, it's going to be very Memphis based. It's going to be what our residents enjoy doing, how they want to spend their time. And the other assisted living for the arbor are exactly the same. They're focused on the residents that live there, what they enjoy doing and how they want to spend their day and really increasing their focus on the social aspect and the spiritual aspect, the physical aspect, strength and and then, you know, even small challenges trying something new. It's a great time and a full calendar of engaging activities and things to do.

Fantastic. Well, thank you so much for explaining all of that. I know our viewers will find that super helpful. Before I let you go, I do want to ask you just one more question. You've been working with seniors for so long now. Do you have any advice for someone who might be looking to work with seniors or get into senior living as a career?

Oh, I find, and my life story has been, that senior living as a career is a beautiful place for someone who enjoys spending time with people. Seniors have a wealth of experience, life experience, knowledge that they bring to the table, and they have stories to be told. And if you find that that is fantastic to you. If you had a great relationship with your grandparents, if you wanted a great relationship with great aunts and uncles. Senior living provides you with an opportunity to meet and serve folks that are that age of grandparents, and they give you an opportunity to take a peek in in their life and also be someone who can be helpful at this point in life. And so for me, senior living is a great option for a career. There are so many things that can be done. And as I explain, when we kind of first started, I wore so many hats and got to taste what was the thing I wanted? What is that piece that pulls me when I pillow my head at night? I can pillow my head at night with things that I tap my heart and say, This is a take home. That's my heart. This is why we do what we do and we get that opportunity on a daily basis. And not a lot of industries can say that. So when you work with seniors, when you work with people knowing that you made a difference, that you brought out that smile, that you were able to make a deep connection with someone that day feels really good.

And I think part of what makes senior living so special is the staff who are passionate about seniors. So definitely, if you're ever looking at senior living as an option for your loved one, that is an aspect to pay very close attention to that commitment and passion. That is it for us today. Kim, thank you so much for sitting down with me.

My pleasure.

You can find this episode and more at to answer all your senior living questions. And if you happen to be in the East Memphis area, be sure to give Kim a call and you can learn more at Bye everyone.

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