Assisted Living – The Present and Future of Senior Living

Whoever coined the phrase “growing old gracefully” probably did not live at Camellia Place. Here, happy seniors are getting older every day, just not in a rocking chair recalling the good ol’ days. They are considered extended family members who are adding life to their years by staying engaged with the world around them.

Camellia Place in Woodstock, GA, is an unconventional assisted-living facility.

But, just before you conjure up images of a large, uninviting building with senior citizens milling about, think of spacious homes in a beautiful rural setting. At Camellia Place, the living arrangement is very different from its traditional counterpart. Nestled in eight beautifully landscaped acres, this neighborhood is composed of six single-story homes with only 16 residents in each, eliminating even the hint of institutional care. It is a neighborhood of homes designed to foster a sense of community within the community, where residents eat and play together.

Forging New Friendships and Families The advantages of this small-home model are many. First, residents live pretty much as a normal family does. They participate in recreational activities and socialization events that keep them connected. They enjoy delicious meals around the table and exercise daily to keep mentally and physically fit. Each house has a porch that allows for “concerts in the park,” where residents sit on their porches to watch a band. Seniors even participate in activities that give a major adrenaline rush, like the watery slip and slide.

Looking ahead, Camellia Place is the model of the future. Its importance became even more prominent with the unexpected onslaught of the Coronavirus and its horrendous impact on seniors and institutions tasked with their care. With the worldwide outbreak at pandemic levels, many assisted living facilities have been locked down. Further isolating a vulnerable group already subjected to profound loneliness, many residents were restricted to their rooms to avoid spreading the virus through social interaction. While seniors were isolated in their rooms, residents at Camellia Place did no such thing. They practiced social distancing and enjoyed the same activities that they did previously. Thus, this proved to be a viable model of assisted living well into the future. The living layouts not only prevent the spread of the virus but also give residents a healthy and vibrant lifestyle during their senior years.

This is why we built Camellia Place. We are locally owned by engaged and committed healthcare leaders who set out to change the perception and break outdated paradigms. We are elevating expectations of assisted living and memory care, and providing a quality of life that brings peace of mind. Every aspect of life at Camellia Place is planned. Whether it’s the fresh daily meals, the activities that improve coordination or help with memory function, staff work hard behind the scenes to make this the special place that it is. There are weekly on-site visits by a doctor and a nurse, and residents can be examined on site. Families of residents continue to give Camellia Place high marks for the outstanding care their loved ones receive, and the security they have in knowing that their loved ones are being well taken care of. When the COVID-19 pandemic began ramping up in the U.S. in early March, most senior living providers shuttered their dining rooms, ceased normal activities and halted move-ins and tours as a way to prevent the disease’s spread. In the months since, many have maintained those strict precautions as a way to protect their residents, given the disease’s ability to spread asymptomatically. However, it is not yet known how long providers can sustain this way of doing business.

The Best Is Yet To Come Although Camellia Place is the first community of its kind, it certainly won’t be the last. Unlike its more traditional senior living counterparts, some providers which focus on small-house settings have not had to disrupt their residents’ lives quite as much when implementing infection control measures. And, there is even some anecdotal evidence to suggest that these communities are better equipped than larger congregate settings to prevent the disease’s spread. With baby boomers becoming senior citizens every day by the thousands, many will need some form of care. Thus, it is incumbent upon the caregiving community to continue evolving and finding innovative ways of doing business. The universal worker concept means the communities have fewer workers coming and going, enabling caregivers to develop much closer relationships with residents. Indeed, Camellia Place is doing its part to help America’s seniors live out their days adding life to years.