Chelsea Senior Living Offering More Choices as Baby Boomers Come of Age
FANWOOD, NJ–The senior population in the U.S. is heading towards a milestone. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that by 2030, all baby boomers will be over age 65, and 20 percent of the population will be of retirement age. With those statistics firmly in the headlights of the elder care industry, New Jersey-based Chelsea Senior Living, a company at the forefront of senior living since the industry’s inception in the 1980s, offers a richer spectrum of living choices now than ever before.
Experts at Chelsea agree on one thing: Don’t wait too long to help mom or dad move into a senior living environment where they’ll get help with day-to-day activities or health issues. To that end, there is a strong emphasis now on earlier action to help seniors remain as independent as possible for as long as possible. Senior living professionals, like those at Chelsea Senior Living, now wear multiple hats, acting not just as salespeople or health care providers, but as ambassadors to welcome seniors and their families to what will be a new way of life.
“More and more people are waiting for the crisis, forcing them to react instead of being proactive,” said Pat Brightman, director of community relations at the Chelsea residence in East Brunswick. “Especially with folks with advancing dementia, when families wait too long, it puts loved ones at risk for dangers such as medication errors, leaving the stove on and falling and being hurt on the floor with no one around to help.”
Offering graduated levels of senior living is now a standard that customers benefit from across the board. It starts with Independent Living, essentially a month-to-month apartment rental offered by Chelsea in Fanwood, West Milford and Warren, with new properties being constructed in Yaphank and Plainview, Long Island.
Independent Living offers complete freedom and independence. It includes access to fun activities and, in the case of Chelsea Senior Living, the added benefit of optional medical and social programs. Right on the same properties is the next level, Assisted Living, which offers attention from aides trained to help with daily activities like dressing, grooming and moving from place to place, as well as regular wellness checks. Assisted Living was pioneered in the 1980s as a middle point of care between total independence and a nursing home.
Memory Care, the industry standard for people with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, offers 24/7 attention in a secure part of the building to prevent residents from wandering away. These residents have their own meals and activities conducted by specially trained staff, in many cases supervised by a Certified Dementia Practitioner. Chelsea’s Fanwoodlocation even offers an early dementia program for people showing some signs of memory loss but who are still highly functional.
Chelsea is also the only senior living company in New Jersey that offers a mental health program. Crossings, within its East Brunswick residence, is an entire floor for seniors with mental health and behavioral illnesses, such as bipolar disorder and depression, or for individuals recovering from mental health hospitalizations or who require medication management.
The idea that senior living residences are simply old-age homes where people are warehoused is a sad myth.
“We offer more choices so folks will consider joining us earlier before their health issues become more serious, so they can age in place more easily,” said Tom Kranz, Chelsea Senior Living director of communications. “Chelsea does not offer cookie-cutter care. We can’t. We have to update our product to meet the needs of seniors as the times demand. We’ve done that for 30 years, and we’ll continue doing so going forward.”
Frequently, the hardest part is convincing reluctant seniors to leave their home of many years.
“Often, it takes a crisis situation at home to put a plan into action,” said registered nurse Vicki Seavey, health services director at the Chelsea Senior Living residence in Warren, New Jersey. “If we could only convince them to move in before a fracture, house fire or some other crisis occurs, it would be a wonderful thing.”
Although assisted living is not meant to be primarily a health care solution, it has become more health care oriented in the 30-plus years since it took off as a senior living option.
“There are many more outside providers, such as visiting nurses, rehab programs, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, psychiatrists and primary care physicians, in and out of our wellness centers on a daily basis,” Seavey said. “Medication management has become much more involved and requires very close RN oversight.”
While websites and printed materials offer an introduction to assisted living, there is no substitute for visiting a facility, looking around, talking to the residents and staff and getting a feeling about the place. Chelsea Senior Living encourages the public to do so at any of its 18 properties in New Jersey and New York.