It might appear odd to the outside observer but it really is not all that unusual for there to be quite an age spread among assisted living residents. This can be especially true in smaller programs. How does this happen and why is it successful?
Often a family seeking a new residential program may be reluctant to admit a younger person with those who may not be his/her generational peers but to the surprise of many it can work. For one thing, sometimes the younger person develops a sense of responsibility by helping to socially engage the older crowd. In other instances the younger resident feels more grounded and can appreciate the slower pace an older population may enjoy.
This does not mean that the home does not require a meaningful activities program that caters to the interests of all residents but even then the blend might work. What is the largest contributor to the success of blending populations? The way the staff are trained to compensate in key areas and make it work.
Staff must be in tune with the needs of this younger resident and then set aside time to engage them and ensure they do not suffer from boredom. In this way even if the bonding with other residents is a slower process than desired, the younger addition can still be fulfilled in their new home. This may mean that one direct care worker is focused on personal care and similar duties while one is focused on social and activity type resident engagement but a progressive thinking owner will work to get the job done.
Families seeking care simply have to ask the right questions which may alleviate any fears about a younger relative being able to find happiness surrounded by older people. The right program with the right people might just pull it off and everyone ends up happy in the process.
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