What do older adults need to thrive in body, mind and spirit? It’s a question leadership at National Lutheran Communities & Services (NLCS) takes to heart when planning and designing communities and programming. A primary answer to the question is the wellness philosophy called ConnectedLiving, which will be integrated at The Village at Providence Point—A National Lutheran Community.
From joyous social events to lifelong learning opportunities, ConnectedLiving provides residents with a rich and fulfilling lifestyle and promotes growth along several dimensions of wellness.
To find out more about how the program works in practice, we spoke with Melissa Blackstone, ConnectedLiving Director at The Village at Providence Point’s sister community, The Village at Rockville—A National Lutheran Community.
Can you tell us a little bit about the dimensions of wellness?
We emphasize seven dimensions of wellness at NLCS: spiritual, physical, intellectual, emotional, social, vocational and environmental. These dimensions are recognized by the International Council on Active Aging as the main staples of wellness, vitality and thriving. Of course, all of the dimensions overlap and interact with each other. Our goal is to work in partnership with our residents to really improve their quality of life when they come to a National Lutheran community.
What can residents expect from ConnectedLiving?
They can expect to thrive and try new experiences, to do things they've never done before and make meaningful connections and lifelong friendships with other residents, either on a one-to-one level or by forming groups.
We also encourage people to build relationships with our instructors and visiting experts. Learning a new skill—watercolor painting, for example—can be intimidating, but it's much easier with a mentor to inspire and encourage you.
Why is all-round vitality so important for older adults?
People who don’t think of wellness as multidimensional tend to focus on physical health. It doesn't matter how much medication you take, if you don't engage across the various dimensions, it's hard to live your best life. We've found that the more our residents participate in our programs, the happier and healthier they are.
How do you encourage residents to take part in ConnectedLiving programs and activities?
Our first task is to get to know each resident as an individual. We want to find out what they like and dislike so we can suggest programs and activities that meet both their needs and their preferences.
What's very important to emphasize is that we don't have a top-down culture where we simply present residents with activity options, nor do we leave residents to fend for themselves. We prefer to think of ConnectedLiving as a partnership in which we work with residents to build programs that put their needs first.
How do you judge if a ConnectedLiving program is successful?
We ask the residents! We solicit feedback after every program, which allows us to fine-tune our activities and make them better each time.
Can you give us an example?
Sure. Last August we organized a Dîner en Blanc. This has always been a popular activity, though we had to cancel it in 2020 due to COVID.
It was a wonderful event, and everyone seemed to love it, but we still asked residents for their feedback: How was the price point? Did you enjoy the food? How can we improve?
One person wrote in to say that they'd had a wonderful time but they hoped we could serve coffee next year. Consider it done! So, not only did that resident have a great time at the event, they also felt heard and included in the planning process, giving an additional boost to their emotional and social wellness.
Any final thoughts for our prospective residents on vitality and ConnectedLiving?
Just this: We never focus on your limitations. Never on what you can't do. Instead, we focus on what you can do and adapt programs to your needs through the continuum of care. If you love painting, for example, we will do everything we can to ensure you never stop painting.
Want to learn more about how our ConnectedLiving program can help you live a life filled with joy, purpose and meaning? Contact us today with any questions you may have, or sign up for one of our events.