Often when you think of senior living facilities, the thought of old and dreary buildings, sterile looking hallways, and the expense comes to mind. The decision to move a loved one into an assisted-living facility is never an easy one to make. We want the very best care for them but also want them to live in a place that keeps them active and feels like a home. An important value to any home is the outdoor living space, especially when you spend more time at home. This doesn’t change for your residents of senior living facilities. Their landscapes not only be bright and beautiful but should encourage residents to get out and enjoy everything the property has to offer. Seniors who live an active and engaged life are happier and live longer. They’ve spent their entire lives working and providing for their families and deserve to spend their golden years in a facility that makes them happy. A pleasant place to gather outside and do activities can greatly improve one’s quality of life.
Here are some enhancements you can make to your property that would improve the lives of its residents:
There should be plenty of comfortable areas for sitting and enjoying the fresh air. Vitamin D is good for the body and good for the soul. People living in assisted living facilities typically have their own room or apartment. By having ample outdoor sitting areas, residents will be encouraged to gather together instead of becoming lonely in their rooms. These sitting areas should also be wheelchair accessible so those who may be confined to wheelchairs can join in with everyone else.
Create interest in these seating areas by adding water features like fountains or ponds. Include a more secluded area where residents or visitors can find peace and tranquility as they may be dealing with difficult issues.
Make sure there are sitting areas that allow both sun and shade by using sunshades, a wheelchair accessible gazebo, arbors, or pergolas so residents can get a respite from the sun’s hot rays.
A courtyard is a lovely way to create a centralized area where you can include lots of seating along with water features, shady spots, etc. By including tables, you would encourage residents to play their favorite games or perhaps have their meals out in the fresh air. A courtyard allows them to gather together and it also builds a sense of community, which is so important when you’ve moved away from your home.
You only get one chance to make a first impression, so you want to make it memorable. Curb appeal is important to the people who live in the facility, but the senior care facility is also a business that needs to attract future tenants. Your entrance is the first thing that potential residents and their families will see when visiting your facility which searching for a new home. Use bright flowers that are fragrant and include seasonal colors as well.
A garden should excite the senses. Beautiful colors, fragrant smells, the sounds of bees and the wind fluttering through the plants, berry bushes, and various textures will bring your senses alive. Many seniors are avid gardeners and giving up their gardens was the hardest part of leaving their home behind. They should be welcomed to care for the plants if they want to, or better yet, why not create a space where they can plant their own plants and flowers? Include a potting table fit for wheelchair access so everyone can get their hands dirty and join in on the joy and satisfaction that gardening can bring. Gardens or beds can be constructed for use by any resident who enjoys gardening. The landscape provider can bring in a variety of plants that the residents can plant and care for, or allow the tenants to pre-order some of their favorites. Something as simple as caring for some flowers gives them a feeling of purpose which contributes to their mental wellbeing with the added bonus of great exercise.
Using shrubbery to separate garden areas can give them a more secluded feeling, and using them to border busy roads or surrounding commercial areas can help give the property feel more like a home and also cut down on noise.
A walking path that winds through the features and gardens of your property promotes activeness and wellness. Walking is something most people can do and has many health benefits. It helps maintain a healthy weight, lowers blood pressure, strengthens your bones and muscles, has a positive effect on your mood, and helps improve balance, all of which are extremely important to seniors.
When you install paths, make sure that they are made of non-slippery materials such as pavers, brick, or asphalt and are wide enough for wheelchairs to easily navigate them. It’s important to make sure your paths are even and that plants are planted at least a foot away from the edge of the path and they are regularly trimmed and maintained to avoid overgrowth that could be a tripping hazard.
Staying active and involved is the key to longevity, and moving into an assisted living facility is a difficult transition for most. Successful facilities are ones that have lots of activities in which their tenants can become involved, inside and out. Depending on the type of facility, size, and budget, recreational areas can include basketball and tennis courts, a driving range, putting green and a flat area for yoga and other exercise classes. Maybe a stocked fishing pond or a giant outdoor chess set. The possibilities are limitless!
Memory Care Solutions
Often memory care solutions feel all to close to that of a prison. Due to health concerns, they are kept behind locked doors with a watchful eye. This is important for their continued health, but doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be able to still enjoy the outdoors. We work with facilities with courtyards and fenced in patio areas that include greenspaces for those that deal with memory care can still enjoy the outdoors. Depending on the needs of the residents, there are a couple special circumstances to consider.
- Plant Life – Something friendly, that can be touched, smelled, and enjoyed. Forget the roses!
- Maintenance Provider – Your maintenance provider should be aware and have standard practices to help keep security at the highest level possible. Understanding that shutting each gate and door behind you is so important and can cause a lot of issues if the company is not prepared to handle special requests.
No matter what enhancements you choose, safety is of the utmost importance. The property should be well-maintained at all times to ensure it remains obstacle-free, that all bushes and shrubs are trimmed regularly to prevent overgrowth, that there are no uneven areas on your turf that could create a tripping threat. The most common injuries to seniors are ones that happen during a fall so it’s important to be vigilant in your lookout for anything that could cause a fall.
Today’s assisted living facilities focus not only on the health of its residents but their overall well being. Moving into one should be a new chapter, one where new friendships are made, fun adventures are had, and life is lived. With some enhancements to the grounds, an assisted living facility can be a true home.
If you’re wondering what changes you can make to your landscape to improve the lives of your residents, call Bluegrass today at (314)770-2828 and let our experts show you how