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February 23, 2024

Adapting Assisted Living for an Aging Population

Category: Aging In Place

Author: Johane Lindle, Director of Wellness

As the global population ages, it will bring both opportunities and challenges for senior living. The projected number of Americans aged 65 and older is expected to double from 46 million to over 98 million by 2060. It will be the first time in history the number of older adults outnumbers children under age five. In addition, older adults will live longer than ever before. One out of every four 65-year-olds today will live past age 90. These remarkable gains are due to improved public health, better nutrition, and better healthcare.

With many people now expected to live into their nineties or beyond, there will be many new challenges and questions to answer. Even though people are living longer, they are not necessarily living healthier.

The nature of the assisted living prospect has changed dramatically over the past 15 years, with even greater changes to come. The senior living industry, including The Plaza at Wildwood Senior Living, will need to consider ways to adapt to residents with more complex and extended chronic care needs.

Some ways to adapt to residents with more complex needs include additional staff training. Not only will staff need the skills to care for residents progressing in their disease processes, but they will also need to understand how to quickly identify changes in their condition. Being proactive in this effort will allow teams to provide the care the residents need precisely when they need it.

Third-party vendors will be crucial to helping our assisted living staff be proactive. 

The following will be crucial for caring for a resident population:

  • with increasing care needs
  • trusted and reliable home health providers
  • rehab therapy teams
  • medical providers
  • behavioral health services

These vendors provide resident-specific care needed to help older adults continue to thrive in the assisted living environment.


Director of Wellness Discusses Caring for an Aging Population

Some strategies to help us adapt to the aging population with more complex and extended chronic care issues include:

  • educating ourselves and our staff
  • continuing to grow
  • understanding things are changing
  • adapting to the changes

We can prepare and educate our staff to care for a population with more significant needs by continuing to educate and provide training and in-services. We make training fun, like having a movie night for staff where they can enjoy a good movie and learn simultaneously. Queen Bees and Still Alice are two good movies staff can learn from.

It is more important than ever to take a proactive approach when a change in condition occurs with a resident. We must be consistent to ensure our teams recognize even small changes within residents. Team members become familiar with the residents they care for consistently to recognize changes as they occur. Team members may need to learn what and when to report changes. It is up to the Director of Wellness, Care Coordinator, and Wellness Nurse to continue to educate and encourage them to report any unusual changes.

Communication is key! 

Once a change is identified, the appropriate next steps are for the nurse to assess the resident right away and notify the primary care physician and families.

Caring for a sicker population in an assisted living setting is a challenging issue that requires a multifaceted approach. Aging in place is an important goal for an older adult and should also be a priority of the senior living industry. To meet this goal, we must ensure we can fulfill the needs of our aging residents.

The Plaza at Wildwood in Wildwood, MO offers independent living plus, assisted living, and memory care with a variety of services and a range of floor plan options. Amenities include restaurant dining, 24-hour bistro, concierge service, housekeeping, events and entertainment, personal care, transportation services, and more. We are centrally located near Mercy Hospital with convenient access to attractions, including Pevely Farms Golf Club, B&B Theatres Wildwood 10, Wildwood Community Park, YMCA Wildwood, and the Hidden Valley Ski Resort.

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