Senior Living & Engaging with Those Who Care

Evaluating a CommunityLifestyle

When choosing a senior living community, look for staff who care deeply about residents and treat them like family. This article, written by Joyce Elven, corporate director of communication for Benchmark Senior Living, highlights how communities exceed expectations with associates who devote themselves to helping others and create real connections with their residents.

The most important component in selecting the right senior living community is just below the surface, beyond the amenities and unique community offerings. It’s in the stories of the employees who have a passion for serving the seniors in their community. Identifying the right home for your loved one happens when you find a community whose associates feel like family.

For many caregivers who work with older adults, their passion is derived from the relationships they develop and the inspiration that comes through learning from and assisting seniors. It’s often an experience that changes their life for the better.

Jose Merida feels like he gets back as much or more than he gives through his dining services role. “I have the chance to learn from the wisdom and knowledge older adults offer. When I have a day off, the residents ask, ‘Where have you been?’ They miss me, and I miss them too. You develop a close bond, and they basically become your second family.”

Chlea Bynoe, a receptionist at a sister community, echoes that “second-family” sentiment. “When I’m not at work, I’m thinking about how they’re doing and how they’re feeling,” she said. “You always put them first, before yourself, and that’s why I love what I do.”

Amanda Francis has been spending time with older adults since she was 12. She fondly remembers visiting her mom at work – at a senior living community – where she would hang out and chat with residents about her field hockey wins and losses. That experience helped inspire her to build a career with older adults as a community director.

“What I love about residents in our communities are their stories and how they make me feel,” she said. “I can have a bad day, come to work, and the residents completely make my day so much better.”

Dining Services Director David Silva grew up in the same neighborhood as the senior living community he serves, where he’s worked for the last 18 years.

“I cook, I manage, I do whatever I can to make the residents happy because, at the end of the day, we’re really here for them. It’s a great feeling coming into work every day, seeing that the residents really do appreciate what we do.”

While David loves connecting with residents over food, he also enjoys sharing life experiences with them. Some are just like family because he grew up with their children.

“We reminisce about the old neighborhood where we lived. We talk about the same people, where we went to school, and how we watched the high-rises get built. That’s how we connect, and it brings back memories for them and puts a smile on their face,” he said.

Lauren Gioia Stowell finds value in taking the burden off families. “After residents move in, I like hearing from family members when they say, ‘Thank you for bringing my mom back, and thank you for giving us our lives back too.’ That’s when the family can become sons and daughters again, versus caregivers.”

Jose, Chlea, Amanda, David and Lauren – like so many other senior living community associates – take pride in their work with seniors, knowing they’re creating lasting bonds and making a difference every day.

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