Dana Goldfarb, Executive Director at Arbor Terrace Middletown, joins us to discuss what it means when we talk about aging in place, what happens when additional care and services are needed, and what that looks like a senior living setting.

Video Transcript

-Hello everyone, and welcome in to Senior Living Live. My name is Melissa. Thank you so much for being a part of our program via video or via podcast. Now, if you've seen any of our videos in the past, you've probably heard us use the words aging in place, but what exactly does that mean, and how does it relate to senior living? Dana Goldfarb, she is the perfect person to help guide us through this topic today, aging in place. She is the executive director at Arbor Terrace, Middletown, a community in New Jersey that has all of the senior living options we are going to talk about today. Dana, how are you?

- I'm well, Melissa, thank you for having me.

- No problem, and congratulations on your move on up to executive director at that community. Congratulations, and I know that you have been a busy woman and I thank you so much for taking the time to be with us today to talk about this topic. Tell us a little bit about yourself and the Arbor Company before we get started.

- My pleasure. So, thank you again. I have been with the Arbor Company for a little over five years. I started here as the marketing director right when Arbor, when we were turning this community into that full service community. It started off as an independent living community. And I've had 21 years of experience in the industry. My heart actually starts in the dementia field. I used to run a dementia neighborhood, and then expanded into marketing. And now, back into operations as the executive director of a community that I adore. So, it's been great.

- Yeah, and so, I love that you have that experience with dementia care because that is a lot about what sort of aging in place can look like for somebody, right? You can start independent living, assisted living, and then perhaps if you need that cognitive care, you move to a memory care unit. So, first and foremost, let's just start from the beginning. What does aging in place mean?

- Well, aging in place means exactly that. Where someone is living in their home, whatever that may be, and their needs expand, and they're able to bring in services and amenities to accommodate those needs, so that they can live in their home for as long as possible, safely and independently.

- Great. Okay. So, what we really haven't discussed in our previous videos about aging in place is kind of what it looks like to someone who comes to a community like yours that has independent, assisted, and memory care. What does that look like on a day to day basis?

- It's really unique. Every opportunity to age in place is different. In our community, someone may come in to independent living and they may be completely independent, driving their car, getting involved with things on their own. And then we are, as a community unit, a team, we identify as people's needs grow. Maybe they're not coming to activities the way they used to. Maybe they're not eating as much as they used to, or they're wandering around at night. And then we can bring those elements that are coming to fruition to both the family and the team to discuss is this the right place? Are there amenities that we need to suggest to keep that person safely in their current apartment? Or do we need to discuss maybe moving them from independent living to assisted if that's necessary? And all of those discussions are not done in a bubble. We do that with the family and the resident as a part of that process, because that's why you join a community like this, so that you can take advantage of all of those aspects.

- Yeah, and really, I love the fact that, you know, if somebody wants to do that, they need a little additional help, their unit is intact. So the people that they've been with, that they see every single day, they're not moving to another community, they're not moving somewhere else. Everybody's there. All the care staff. Everybody that they know happens to be there and will stay there. So, I love that aspect of it so much because the most nail biting scenario that we hear from children of aging parents is, gosh, I don't wanna move my mom or my dad because it's so traumatic. So we sort of found a solution to that. So, on the heels of that, can you give us an example of someone who has done this aging in place at your community, starting with that initial move in and maybe independent living, and what has that feedback been like?

- Absolutely; so I moved a gentleman named Fred, we'll call him Fred, in to the community and in to independent living, when his wife passed away and his family was of course concerned about him managing his world. Moved in to independent living, acclimated beautifully, became an ambassador, which is a resident who helps other residents acclimate to the community, and really took advantage of living independently and successfully. And then as Fred lived here for a couple of years, we noticed that, you know, he was falling in his apartment. He just, maybe wasn't coming down for meals as quickly as he used to. So, we offered to, you know, have him bring in home care, so he could stay in independent living. And his family was really nervous about him overnight. So, that's really where home care wasn't a solution to the problem. So we discussed assisted living, because we have the home health aids and the nurses in the community 24/7 to help him overnight. So they decided that was the best option. Like you had mentioned, Melissa, it was really nice because his friends didn't change, his lifestyle didn't change, nothing changed. So he moved over to an assisted living apartment that was basically identical to the apartment that he moved into in independent living. Just a larger bathroom and a little bit more accommodations that way. And again, started to thrive. Became the old Fred that we knew. Really enjoyed the activities and the trips and got a little bit of extra help up to go to meals, so he wasn't missing out on his nutritional needs. So, did a beautiful job. But after a few years, we also noticed that he was wandering at night and getting lost. So, then it was another discussion with the family and obviously him. He was in that middle stage of kind of knew that something wasn't right, but couldn't really put his finger on it. We were able to identify that he really needed the memory care neighborhood. It was a smaller environment, a little bit more structured, and allowed him to build that routine into his day to be successful. And ironically, when he moved into memory care neighborhood, he recognized some folks that had lived with him on the independent living side and started to thrive again. You know, it was like old home for him. So it was really a great time for the family to see their dad come back to life. And not necessarily, it wasn't a moment where they had to be sad, because he was able to elevate his quality of life again and enjoy the rest of his time with us. So it was really a success story that we're really proud of. And Fred's still here.

- I love that. And that's the happy ending we were all hoping for. So, what a wonderful story and really the progression, you know, going from independent living to memory care, obviously it took a few years for that to happen, but oh my goodness. That family, you know, having those decisions, as you said, was tough, but the end result, fabulous. Fabulous, and I'm so happy to hear that Fred is there and he is thriving and doing well. So, obviously this makes Arbor communities unique. Not every community offers this. Some do. But let's talk about the alternative. What does that look like for somebody who may say, well I can age a place in my own home. Is the cost more or less? What do you see? Or what do you hear in terms of feedback on that end?

- So there's so many costs attributed to is staying at home. You know, you have obviously the financial piece of it, but you have an emotional piece too, of leaving the home and all of the things that come into play with that. When someone stays in their home, they're staying around a lifestyle that they probably, it's not so easy to maintain, which is why you're having this conversation. You know, bringing in a ramp company, maybe, to accommodate them for stairs they can't use anymore. Bringing in a home care company to help them bathe in their home. Maybe you're bringing in delivery of meals or a housekeeper. All of those aspects. So, when you're staying at home, not only are you bringing in all those little ancillary pieces, but you're also paying your taxes, if you have a mortgage. Some people have a reverse mortgage, which is a whole other ball of wax. And you have to pay for snow removal and you have to pay for the upkeep of the home. When you move to a community, and, you know, you're aging in place in that community, of course, there's other amenities that are in place and there's costs that come with that. So it feels very expensive to some folks, but when you're looking at the overall cost of life. When you're at home and you're maintaining your life at home with those ancillaries versus moving to a community, oftentimes we find that it's less expensive to move to a community environment and take advantage of those amenities there. It's just that emotional cost that comes into play versus staying at home around the things that are familiar to you and your family.

- Yeah. Yeah. And, you know, one of the good things is we talk about moving can be traumatic for some people, but you can bring your stuff. You know, there are things from your home, your beloved things, you can bring those items with you. I actually had another individual from another Arbor community during one of these interviews that told us that mom was really attached to a fireplace and they were able to take that fireplace and put it into her apartment somehow, someway that she could keep that.

- Wow

- That is amazing.

- It is.

- So, I love what you guys are doing there. And so I guess finally, the final question here is, in what ways can someone's independent remain intact if they choose to age in place at an Arbor community or any community? And I really wanna get down to the nitty gritty here because more help or assistance doesn't necessarily mean independence, right? And I know you mentioned Fred and that may be a perfect example.

- So, when someone's looking, you know, when they're looking for their independence to remain intact it really depends on what the definition is for them. If, like you had mentioned, if somebody stays home and they feel they're independent, but they have a a live-in home health aid, they may not feel so, somebody may love that, and another person might feel like that's an invasion of their privacy, because that person's on top of them at all times. In a community like this, let's say, we're gonna take Fred for an example. He was living in independent living. We wanted to bring in home care with him, but that, we offer a home care company on site. It's a different company that offers space here that brings in ala carte services. So he only needed showers a couple times a week. They came in, they did the shower, they left. Whereas if you hire a home care company at home, you have to at least give them two to four hours of service so that they can fill that spot and offer a consistency of care to you. So it's a little bit of a different in, you know, scenario and really what is independent to the person is what's important. So when you're looking at this, it's really crucial to talk to the resident, the loved one, the family member, and find out what's important to them. What does independence look like for them? And what are the services that you can offer to make that lifestyle come true and be the best they could be?

- Yeah. Yeah. I love that. I love that you pointed that out. Staying independent means different things to different people. So, perfect. I love it. Dana, thank you so much for the wonderful breakdown here of what it really means to age in place.

- My pleasure. Thank you for having me.

- Thank you. Now, if you, as our viewer would like to find out more about senior living, what it entails, the cost, how to pay for it, head on over to our website, www.SeniorLivingLive.com. All of our content is free and it is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Thank you so much for being a part of Senior Living Live. Have a great day, everybody.

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