In this episode of Senior Living LIVE!, Melissa Lee talks to Cynthia Smith, Executive Director of Arbor Terrace of East Cobb, about what she’s learned from residents over the past year, what excites her about the future, and what makes life special at the community.


Video Transcript

- Hello everyone and welcome into "Senior Living Live," my name is Melissa, I hope you are having a fantastic day today. Well, we are continuing to check in with Arbor communities, from residents, to our staff members, all in an effort to arm you with as much information as possible about senior living. Today, I am very happy to introduce you to Cynthia Smith, she is the Executive Director at Arbor Terrace Of East Cobb, Cynthia, it's a little bit of a moody day in Georgia, how are you?

- I'm great, how are you?

- Doing fantastic, thank you so much. So, first things first, let's just talk a little bit about you, a little bit about your role and what you do for The Arbor Company.

- Okay. So, I am the Executive Director here at Arbor Terrace Of East Cobb, I've been with The Arbor Company for about 11 years. They call me Mama Bear here, so I kind of oversee everything and everybody, my hand touches a little bit of everything, from working in the dining room, to paperwork, following up on calls, there's a whole list of things that I do, but I love what I do.

- Yeah and in that role as Executive Director, we love to call you guys the Swiss Army knives, you're our secret weapons. You really do do it all on a daily basis. And I know that there is a lot of individuals, who maybe were ready to make that jump to senior living and then the Corona virus happened and then they decided, yeah, maybe that's not the right time. But now as we continue to emerge from lockdown and the Corona virus restrictions are lifting, what should people be adding to that list of, quote, "What to look for when choosing a senior living community?"

- Okay. So, I think families that are looking are still nervous and hesitant, some about senior livings. There's a couple of things I would say to ask is, the community that you're looking at, are they open? Can you come in and visit, because that's huge for families as well as residents, are they open for activities again? And when I say that, I mean out in the common areas, not just doing the small group or one-on-one in your apartments. And then, is the dining room open? Can residents now come out and eat in a group setting in the dining room, which is also very important for socializing. So, those are three of the big ones, that I think all of those are concerns for family members. I think that will, if you can get the answers that you're looking for to those questions, then that'll put you more at ease.

- Yeah, the virtual part of of what the coronavirus has sort of started, with all the zoom calls and getting to look at everything online, it's really not the same when you can come into a community and you can see it, you can feel it and that is such a. It could be the decision between moving into a place and not moving into a place.

- Oh yeah. Absolutely.

- Yeah. So, what are some of the trends you are seeing in terms of what people are asking when they come in for a tour and how has your community adapted to meet those requests?

- I think one of the biggest things that we are seeing from families that pretty much comes up at every tour now, is about vaccinations. Are the residents vaccinated, is our staff vaccinated? And that I'm finding is the big question right now, I think, as I said before, people are still a little scared about COVID and it did hit senior livings hard, so that's a big question and for us, all of our residents are a hundred percent vaccinated and we just have a handful of staff. I also shared that, at the end of June, all staff will have to be vaccinated, they're moving in soon, or in the upcoming months, everyone in the building will be vaccinated, whether it's residents or staff.

- Yeah and that's huge. And you're right, the The Arbor company did make that mandatory now, as you mentioned, in June for all of the staff to be vaccinated as well and it kinda makes sense, doesn't it?

- Yeah. Absolutely. And I'm finding also, families are quick to share that they're vaccinated as well, so to me, if I'm gonna require, if our residents are vaccinated and we're caring for them, then we should absolutely be vaccinated.

- Excellent. So, what have you and your staff learned about your residents this past year?

- Definitely learned that they are very resilient, they have just toughed it out, it's been a rough year, but they have all expressed such thanks to our staff and I learned, and I think probably some of them have learned too that, which we all know, but when you can't see your families, you really realize just how much you miss seeing them. So, I think that's been the one big thing that we've learned from our residents, is that they need their loved ones around. That that makes a huge difference in them, how they're feeling, how they view things and so, for us to be open again, for us it was just so exciting to see families and again to see residents out with their friends, so that was a huge part, it's how much they need just the socialization.

- Yeah and that's a big reason why people choose to move to a senior living community, when perhaps they may be put, still stay at home, they want that social interaction, they want the ability for things to be a little bit easy, right?

- Yeah.

- Yeah.

- It's nice to feel that there's always somebody there, but when residents couldn't come out, they didn't get that, so now for them to be able to just be out, to see each other again, that's really nice.

- Yeah. And you mentioned, you've been with The Arbor Company, little over a decade now, what is the most rewarding part about your job?

- The success stories, when a resident moves in, especially if they or their family members are hesitant and they move in and they're happy, their families are happy, they see the difference in them, maybe when they were living at home or another community and then they moved here, that is always very rewarding. It's rewarding when we are a community that has three separate neighborhoods and so when we are doing transfers from one neighborhood to another, that's always a difficult conversation to have, it's difficult for family members, but when that resident moves to the right setting and they are thriving, you just get such a great feeling. Just seeing that we're doing the right thing for the residents, just feels good.

- Yeah and I wanna, because somebody may be watching this and saying, "Three neighborhoods, how does that work?" That makes your community a little bit unique and a little bit special and allowing people to age in place, so what are those three neighborhoods that you allow people to live in?

- So , we have Assisted Living. After Assisted Living, we have Bridges and I always describe it, exactly as it says, it's a bridge between Assisted Living and Memory Care and then we have Memory Care. So, a lot of communities don't have the Bridges, it's really what kind of makes us unique. So, it's for our residents where, maybe Assisted Living just isn't a good fit for them anymore, it's larger, there's a lot of stimulation, but they aren't quite ready for Memory Care. They still get stimulation in Bridges, but it's just kinda like toned down a notch. And Bridge is also smaller, it's just a very intimate neighborhood.

- Yeah and it's a very tailored to compete you where you are in that senior living journey, so, it does make you very unique in that aspect. If you could think of maybe one thing that you really want people to know about this community, what would it be?

- I think the one thing is that we truly feel like home. I hear it from current families, I hear it from people that come in that haven't, that are just touring, that they always say how it just feels homey to them. We have such friendly staff, they greet everybody and we want it to feel like like home, because for a lot of our residents, this is gonna be their last home. We want it to be a great experience for them and that has been one of the benefits of us opening again, because you can actually come in and experience our staff, experience the environment and the feel of our community. So, I think that that for me is a big deal, is that it feels like home, which I love hearing them say, 'cause I don't want it to feel like they're staying somewhere unfamiliar to them.

- Yeah and so, to maybe put a ribbon on this and to to end this, what has been a very enlightening conversation, what would you say to somebody who might just still be on the fence about moving into senior living? This is probably a pretty good time, right?

- Yes. I definitely think it's a good time. Again, we are reopening, so I have found new residents that are moving in, they don't feel so new, because residents are just starting to come out again and so they are eager to meet new people. They're so inviting to everybody that comes in and I also tell families, it's a difficult decision. It's a difficult decision for the family, also for the resident that's moving in, but I think for both the family and the resident, the sooner you make that decision, the better it is for both. You don't wanna wait until a crisis and you also don't wanna wait until, if you have someone that's able to move into Assisted Living now, or Bridges now, make that move now, sometimes a lot of families wait and their only option is Memory Care.

- Right. Gosh, wonderful, wonderful words of wisdom there, don't wait until it's too late and allow your loved one to have a choice and have a say in that decision, because it is a very big decision as you said and it's good when everybody can feel good about making good decisions.

- Absolutely.

- Excellent. I so appreciate you taking the time out of your busy day, to join us here today Cynthia, thank you so much.

- You are very welcome, thank you for having me.

- Thank you. Well, if you are interested in learning more about The Arbor Company or senior living in general, you can head on over to our website at, it is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Have a great day, everybody.

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