Melissa Lee talks to Krishnan Kalyanasundaram, VP of Operations for The Arbor Company, about what the transition and adjustment periods look like when moving into a senior living community.
Learn more from Krishnan about what to expect during this period, how to address common feelings and emotions, and how settling into the right senior living community can enhance your lifestyle and improve the quality of your life.
- Hello everyone, and welcome into Senior Living Live. My name is Melissa. I hope you are having a fantastic day today. Well, we have been checking in with Arbor staff and residents in an effort to sort of arm you with as much information as we possibly can, all about senior living. And today I wanna introduce you to somebody very special within the Arbor Company. His name is Krishnan Kalyanasundaram. He is the Vice President of Operations for the Arbor Company. And most of us at Arbor, affectionately know him simply as Kay. Kay, how are you today?
- I'm very well, Melissa, how are you? It's good to see you.
- Yeah, it is good to see you too. You worked so hard at the Arbor Company, you've been with Arbor for quite some time now in multiple roles, yes?
- Yes, that's correct.
- So tell us a little bit about your background now and what your day-to-day role is within the company.
- Well, I've been in senior living for 21 years now. And I started out with the Arbor Company after having a couple of stints with public companies in 2008 as an Executive Director. Moved into an operations specialist role in 2013, as we brought on a new community in the south side of Atlanta. And then from then on, I've grown with the company and manage a portfolio of assets. My only role is to ensure that our executive directors who lead our communities and provide direction for our staff and our residents are successful. That's my only role.
- Yeah, and I know over the years that you've been with the Arbor Company you have seen time and time again people really struggling with that decision to make the move to senior living. It's a tough one. What are some tips you can give our viewers today who may be on the fence right now to help them find the right senior community for them?
- Good, great question, Melissa. I'm gonna answer this from a family member's perspective. I'm gonna tell the family member talk to your loved one first. Understand their anxieties and please do not wait for a crisis. Be honest with them and hear them. Please, listen to them. And then I would say, do your research about the community that may be best suited for your loved one's needs because no one knows your loved one like you do. And then based on your research, I would say choose the top three communities that you want to visit. If you choose more than three, the information becomes very confusing and decisions become difficult. As you walk into the community, you're gonna look at the feel of the community. How do the residents look? How are the staff engaging with the residents? Look at the menu. See if the menu offering is something that your loved one would enjoy. How are the community staff greeting you and how are they interacting with the residents? Look and ask for the regulatory experience of the community. Many times when you're in assisted living or memory care communities, you want to know that their experience and the residents experience has been blessed by the state to be regulatorily perfect. That's what you're looking for. Because, Melissa, regardless of the monetary aspect of the move to senior living, this decision is really made from the heart. One question that I would ask every loved one ask and answer themselves would be what would my loved one enjoy best? How would the quality of life be enhanced at this community? That's question one. And two, would this allow me peace of mind? You answer these two questions and if you're satisfied that these questions have been answered, then that is the right community for you.
- Fantastic tips, Kay, just excellent. In that one answer there, I think you've helped a lot of people create that checklist if they haven't already. And, you know, with COVID, that was difficult to do because people couldn't come in to the communities and get that feel, which I think is so important with Arbor communities. You wanna go somewhere that feels like home because it is going to be your home.
- So great tips there. And that now, that's the hard part, right, or so we think finding the community is the hard part but then there tends to be that sort of adjustment period that a lot of people go through. What are some of the more common emotions people tend to have as they settle into their new home and community?
- Thanks Melissa. Two predominant emotions; depression and anxiety. Those are very common amongst our residents that move into a community for the first time. The third predominant emotion is the feeling of a lack of independence. I've had many residents come up to me to say, you know, "I'd love to drive my car "and my car has been taken away from me." So that touches at the very core of their being. And then as they travel through the first few days of the community experience, this feeling of being the new student in the school, you know, I don't have friends, I don't know who to turn to and I'm nervous to go to the dining room, I'm hesitant to participate in community life because I don't know anybody. These are the predominant emotions that a newer resident walking into a community feels for the very, for the first few days.
- What would you say to someone who is concerned that a move to senior living will take away their independence? Is that true?
- Well, I'm gonna offer up an argument that's gonna bring a smile to your face. I'm gonna say when you move into a senior living community, you no longer have to cook or clean or pay utility bills, okay. I would also say that in a communal setting, the quality of your life is enhanced, you make new friendships and new relationships. We've had tremendous success stories where residents who've been lonely for a very long time, having lost a life partner, come into a community, meet, love strikes, and they get married. And then I would also say in the Arbor world, every community is committed to engaging and enriching the lives and spirits of our residents. This includes preserving independence in the choices that our residents make. Very simply, whether it's an entree choice in the dining room or an activity that they want to go to, or even a movie offering that they want to see. Well, I'll make it even more simple, or even who they want to sit with for their next meal. So it's not a loss of independence. It's actually improving the quality of your life.
- Yeah, and I would say for those who may be moving into an assisted living community situation that you may actually gain some independence because there are many Arbor communities that have transportation that can take you where you need to go when you need to go and the doctors can come to you. Senior living is all about making your life easy and somewhat consistent. So those are things that you can bank on every single day, every single week, every single month and year. So it's there to make your life easy. So, Kay, so far, great answers to these questions. But we cannot forget about our family members, right. Those family members who were involved in helping that loved one make that transition to a new way of life, what are some tips you can give the families to help make that transitional period a little bit smoother?
- I'm going to sound like a yoga teacher when I give you an answer. The first thing I would say is breathe. You have made a decision that is going to give you peace of mind. The next thing I'm gonna say is have patience. Transitions take time and so be fair to yourself, be fair to your loved one and be fair to the community team because your loved one needs your grace, the community team needs your grace. Will there be challenges? Absolutely. Will mistakes be made? Yes, mistakes will be made. But this is all about the care of your loved one. And the care of your loved one you must realize is a partnership with the community of your choice. You're both doing this out of love and in the best interests of the one that you love. The next thing I would say is be open. Be honest when you see changes in your loved one. When you take your loved one to a physician appointment, if you're doing it, come back and share that information with the community. When you're visiting your loved one, if you see a change in condition because your loved one is aging in place, share this with the community because the more eyes and ears we have on your loved one, the better his or her quality of life is going to be. And I'm going to say above all, allow some time for your loved one to settle into the new routine and then develop a purpose filled life, one that is devoid of the drudgery of day-to-day chores and to-do lists, Melissa. This is important.
- Absolutely, great answer. And I guess just to capital off from the operations standpoint, Kay, as we are, it feels like, at least in America, we're back open for business when it comes to COVID, it almost feels like almost completely in the rear-view mirror. And I know we're getting there slowly but surely all across the board. But from an operation standpoint, would you say that maybe for those who held off on making that transition to senior living because of COVID that this is the right time?
- Absolutely. I can assure you that our staff and our residents care about each other, care about their safety. And our staff are vaccinated, most of our residents are vaccinated. And so we absolutely ensure a very safe environment. This is the right time. In fact, we have seen a significant uptick in demand just after the easing of these restrictions. And I think yes, as I started my conversation with you, Melissa, I said don't wait for a crisis. And it's important for our families to hear this. Don't wait for a crisis. The time is now.
- Perfect. I couldn't have said that better, Kay. And we hear this from professionals who work with seniors all across the board. They all say the same thing. Make those decisions before it's an emergency, before a crisis happens. We just cannot say that enough. And I also can't say enough how thankful I am that you took the time out of your busy schedule to join us today for the show to give us a little bit more insight on senior living in general. So, Kay, thank you so much.
- Thank you, Melissa. It's been an absolute pleasure. It's a delight to see you too.
- Yeah, great to see you. And if you are interested in hearing a little bit more about senior living in general, you can head on over to our website, www.seniorlivinglive.com. You can check out our upcoming webinars and all of our video content, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As always, thank you for watching Senior Living Live. Have a great day, everybody.