Dogwood Forest gives you things to consider when looking for an assisted care facility
By Kia Clark
Special to The Citizen
For close to 25 years, assisted living has become a prominent concept in senior living by providing choices beyond the nursing home model. With a resort like quality, the offering of multiple accommodations, and a sense of community, assisted living has become a first choice for many senior adults and their families.
However, the decision to move into an assisted living care community comes with multiple considerations. Similar to other multi-unit dwellings such as the condominium or apartment building, the living space and accommodations are important factors in the decision to move into assisted living. Communities like Dogwood Forest of Fayetteville in Fayetteville, Ga., offer a wealth of options for its residents.
“Many are surprised when they walk into Dogwood Forest, said Deltra Clark, executive director of Dogwood Forest of Fayetteville. “I think people expect a different type of environment. They associate senior care with nursing homes, but with assisted living this is like living in their own home, but with perks.”
One of the great things about assisted living is the sense of home. Not only does a resident of an assisted living have personal space, but they also have several community areas to enjoy.
“The assisted living concept is unique in that it seems like a resort in a sense that our residents have lots of space and accommodations at their disposal, Clark said. “Residents here also have three course meals, three times a day. We offer services like a resort, but with a caring staff to assist those that need help with the little things.”
Exercise areas, lounge space, private dining rooms, gardens, support groups and clubs, are some of the many perks of living in an assisted living community. Residents have the opportunity to engage with others, participate in groups and entertain family and friends.
“Assisted living gives people an opportunity to be around others and meet new friends, instead of being alone in their homes, said Alma Jackson, community relations director of Dogwood Forest. “Residents have an opportunity to bond with their neighbors. For instance, many of our residents volunteer in the outside community. Being in assisted living could very well give seniors a sense of purpose.”
In assisted living it is important to ensure that the community offers activities that would satisfy the senior’s personal hobbies.
“Engagement is the key component to assisted living because we really want them to transition and adjust well,” said Clark. “Residents want to be active and engaged and we really do our best to help residents through the transition phase. Dogwood Forest also allows residents to bring their own pets, and sometimes that helps them acclimate to the new environment,” Clark added.
Another question to ask is if the resident apartments come furnished? Many residents in assisted living come from the homes that they have lived in for decades, so it may be necessary to downsize.
“We have residents that try to fit everything from their three bedroom homes into our apartments, Jackson said laughing.When looking for a community, ask if there is any additional storage. Some communities may have storage, while others will set up accommodations at a nearby storage facility.
Although, it may be necessary to sell or give away some belongings, most assisted living communities allow residents to furnish their new home with their personal items. Some communities may even offer apartments that are already fully furnished and designed professionally by an interior decorator.
Another thing to consider is if the community offers sleeping arrangements for visiting family and friends.
“Although it is depending on availability, relatives can stay in one of our respite rooms if they like.” Jackson said. She also mentions that guests are welcomed to stay or dine with a resident of an assisted living community for a nominal cost. “Essentially, when a new resident moves in, we adopt their family as well, and they become part of the Dogwood family, Jackson said.
In addition, most assisted living communities should be accessible to those that may not be able to move like they use to or accessible to those with disabilities. In addition, those searching for assisted living communities should also inquire about parking for residents and community transportation. Many residents of assisted living communities still own cars and are driving, so it is important that there is adequate parking.
“At this particular community, there’s plenty of parking for our residents that still drive,” said Tami Tucker, life enrichment director at Dogwood Forest. “Some of our residents still go to the store and run their daily errands without assistance. But for those that don’t, we offer scheduled transportation weekly.”
Further, the outdoor area of an assisted living community should be well kept with adequate space for residents and their visitors. Some communities even have lush gardens and clubs for residents whose hobbies include gardening. “The activities our residents enjoyed at home, we also want them to enjoy here,” Clark said. Lastly, keep in mind when looking for assisted living there should be security in knowing that you are not alone, and that there are experts waiting to help.
“At Dogwood Forest, we truly pride ourselves in being experts in the industry,” Jackson said. Assisted living communities also offer outside services to assist residents. Dogwood Forest offers speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy and other outside industry professionals to come in to assist residents.
Although, making the decision to move into an assisted living community could be difficult, and it does require time and patience, when you come across the right community for you or your loved one, you just know it. “An assisted living community should feel warm like home, Clark said. And the staff there should feel like extended family.”
For more information, phone 770-719-9010 or visit www.dogwoodforestfayetteville.com