Easing Into Life in a Senior Living Community

November 17, 2022

It’s a universal truth: Moving is disruptive, to say the least. Even when you’re moving into a brand-new home in an exciting new community, it takes time to become familiar in new surroundings.

It’s also true for most of us that, as we get older, it can take more effort to adapt to changes. Knowing this, staff members at The Variel go out of their way to make sure new residents have everything they need to feel at home right away.

More than anything, though, it’s the friendly, welcoming nature of the staff — and the residents who are already here — that makes it easy for new people to settle in.

Setting the Stage for a Prosperous Social Community

When The Variel was in the planning stages, we knew we wanted to create an exceptional senior living community. Research indicated the Woodland Hills area could certainly support an upscale retirement community like the one we envisioned. So, we did more research to determine what kind of amenities to include, based on the expectations of those we anticipated would be living here.

Now that we’ve reached nearly 40% capacity just 5 months after opening our doors, we’re pleased to report residents are making good use of all of the amenities available to them — especially the classes and social activities. In fact, the social aspect of our new community has taken off even more quickly than we imagined it would!

Making It Easy to Make Connections

Over the last couple of years, as we interacted with people who were interested in moving to The Variel, we could see that most of them were quite comfortable using mobile devices and social media. This led us to create The Variel’s Maneuver Tech Program, powered by K4Connect. This utilizes the K4Community Plus app, the latest concept in senior living technology helping residents stay informed and engaged.

And it’s definitely been a hit! Soon after new residents move in, we help them download the app if they need assistance and then walk them through everything they can do with it.

For example, residents can use the K4Community Plus app to:

  • Stay better connected with their family and friends
  • Look for news and announcements from the staff
  • Check the Zenergy class schedule
  • See what’s on the menu at our restaurants
  • Find out what social events are coming up
  • Connect with other residents
  • Locate names and phone numbers in the staff directory
  • Request service or maintenance
  • Add their contact information to the resident directory (entirely optional!)

Naturally, not everyone wants to use a cellphone or tablet to get information about what’s happening in their community. Notices, schedules and flyers for upcoming social events are posted in the mail area so that everyone at The Variel can stay up to date.

Residents are always welcome to stop by our offices if they have questions or suggestions, or if they just want to chat.

Connecting to Better Health, Good Times and More

As we alluded to earlier, the classes at our Zenergy Fitness Center have been well attended, and our staff has been asking residents what other classes they would like us to add. Favorites so far include water aerobics and classes to improve balance, fitness and flexibility.

Recently, in response to resident requests, we added Pilates and boxing classes. We may also be adding dance classes similar to Zumba.

Additionally, we’ve been having two or three social events most weeks, and they’ve also proved to be quite popular. Our Catalina Courtyard is an ideal setting for many of these events, and there’s always room for friends and family members who want to join in the fun. Incidentally, quite a few family members have taken us up on that offer!

Jocelyn Aquino, our activities coordinator, noted that a few residents asked her what their grandkids could do if they come to visit. She suggested bringing them to a painting or crafts class, which turned out to be a great idea.

Family Members Help Ease the Transition

One reason we’re always delighted to see family members at our social events is that having them here helps residents feel more comfortable while they’re getting used to their new community.

Some communities recommend sharing a meal together on move-in day as a way to ease the transition. That’s a great suggestion, of course, but we say why stop there? We encourage family and friends to come back soon, and often!

And Apparently, All Social Activity Is Good for Older Adults

It’s no secret that having close bonds with friends and relatives is important for us as we get older. Having a social network we can turn to for support can help us cope with stress, boost our self-worth and fend off the effects of isolation, including depression.

Socializing with a broader range of people can help seniors stay active in ways that many of us may not have considered. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin revealed a link between social engagement and physical activity throughout the day.

Specifically, the researchers found participants in the study, who were at least 65 years old, engaged in more physical activity, and thus were less sedentary, when they interacted with a greater variety of “social partners.” Those partners included casual acquaintances and even people they didn’t know.

“It is difficult to convince people to go to the gym or commit to work out on a regular basis,” says Karen Fingerman, director of the university’s Texas Aging & Longevity Center. “But they may be willing to reach out to acquaintances, attend an organized group event or talk to the barista who serves them at their favorite coffee shop. Socializing in these contexts also can increase physical activity and diverse behaviors in ways that benefit health without necessarily working up a sweat.”

“Older adults may be able to be more sedentary with their close friends and family — sitting and watching TV or otherwise lounging at home,” she says. “But to engage with acquaintances, older adults must leave the house, or at least get up out of their chair to answer the door.”

Debra Umberson, director of the Center on Aging and Population Sciences at the university and study co-author, noted that the results show “routine encounters have important benefits for activity levels and psychological well-being.”

In other words, simply being in a senior living community such as The Variel can benefit residents’ health because they most likely do interact with a broader range of people on a regular basis.

More Activities Ahead

Along with overseeing a variety of arts and crafts classes, Jocelyn, our activities coordinator, has been busy helping residents organize other types of activity groups and clubs.

Currently, there are groups that get together to play card games or mahjong, a gardening group and a book club. Some resident-led committees are also in the works, including a welcoming committee.

“We want to know what the residents are interested in doing. We’ve added new classes to the schedule and will continue to add activities as more people express their interests,” Jocelyn says. “We talk with them, and we listen. Residents are also welcome to come to me to get information and have their questions answered.”

Want to See if Our Community Is Right for You?

If you’re looking into options for upscale independent living in Woodland Hills, we encourage you to take a look at The Variel. You’ll find an abundance of amenities, along with activities we’re tailoring specifically for the people who live here.

If you’re in search of assisted living or memory care, we offer those as well — all in a fresh, beautiful setting conveniently located in Warner Center.

Moving here now would give you a unique opportunity to help shape our new community. Why not take a moment to go ahead and contact us? We’ll gladly set up a time for you to come experience The Variel in person.