Assisted Living in Texas: Why It’s Time for a Change

Assisted-Living-in-Texas-Why-Its-Time-for-a-Change

When it comes to healthy aging, quite honestly, there’s a lot to do. You’re supposed to make sure to keep your body active and your brain engaged all while maintaining your social connections as well. Sure, the benefits to your overall well-being are worth the effort, but retirement is supposed to be a time with less responsibility on your plate, right? Well, it turns out that in senior living you can have your cake and eat it too, so to speak. Here’s how programs like our Vivid Life make keeping active, engaged, and connected easy and fun! 

Benefits of Healthy Aging 

Good things happen when you focus on healthy aging. In addition to feeling better overall, which in and of itself is a win, other benefits of keeping active, engaged, and connected include:  

  • Improved ability to do everyday things ​ 
  • Reduced impact of illness and chronic disease​ 
  • Enhanced mobility, flexibility, and balance
  • Improved sleep
  • Increased energy level
  • Reduced feelings of depression and stress
  • Increased feelings of happiness and self-confidence
  • Reduced risk of cognitive decline 
  • Increased mental adaptability and cognitive reserve 
  • Improved memory recall and problem-solving skills 
  • Improved concentration and attention to detail  

How Senior Living Can Help 

At home, particularly when living alone, it can be hard to stay as active, engaged, and connected as you’d like. From lack of opportunity to lack of motivation to lack of transportation to mobility challenges, and more, it’s tough, we get it! That’s why we created the Vivid Life program in our senior living communities. It’s composed of three parts: Vibrant Body, Vibrant Brain, and Vibrant Connections. Here’s what each entails:  

Vibrant Body We offer amenities such as a state-of-the-art fitness center, a pool, walking trails, gardening opportunities, and even a dog park to help you stay active. A sample of activities includes:  

  • Walking club – Daily walks at different outdoor locations using pedometers to measure steps. 
  • Yoga – At least once per week for gentle yoga, and once per week for mindful breathing. 
  • Fitness classes – At least two times per week using a variety of hand weights, resistance bands, and circuit-type exercises. 
  • Tai Chi – At least once per week with a live instructor. 
  • Non-traditional exercise – Dancing, gardening, etc. at least two times per week. 
  • Physical games and sports – Golf, putting, bowling, croquet, bocce, and ping pong available daily with organized events one to two times per week. 

Vibrant Brain We offer monthly calendars filled with classes, events, creative arts, and enrichment opportunities to help keep you engaged. A sample of activities includes: 

  • Visiting lecture series – Twice per month with topics such as cultural, historical, local interest, career-oriented, etc. 
  • Creative art series – At least one per week with a theme that runs 3-6 weeks, such as poetry writing, storytelling, painting, digital photography, etc. 
  • Learning series – At least three times per month with an emphasis on learning something new such as foreign language, sign language, technology, hobbies, etc. 
  • Games – At least one time per week and may include poker, bridge, Scrabble, etc. 
  • Mindfulness – A meditation class once per week and gratitude discussion group twice monthly. 
  • Church service – At least once a week through visits by local churches. 
  • Stress reduction – At least once per month class that offers deep breathing exercises, nature walks, music appreciation, spa-type treatments, etc. 

 Vibrant Connections We offer resident-led clubs, social events, outings and volunteer opportunities for any interest to help you stay connected. A sample of activities includes: 

  • Outings – At least twice per month and may include going to concerts, art shows, museum visits, theatre productions, etc. 
  • Intergenerational programming – At least once per month and focuses on building relationships between young adults/children and residents. 
  • New resident welcome party – At least once per month to formally introduce all new residents, and includes ice breakers, social games, etc. to encourage connection. 
  • Philanthropic program – At least once per month provide residents the opportunity to give back to the community, such as volunteering for a local food bank or pet shelter. 
  • Resident-led clubs – May include game clubs, professional clubs, common interests, etc. that meet at least monthly.  

What’s more, it’s all right outside your door (or transportation is provided offsite) and all in a supportive environment with home maintenance, housekeeping, and restaurant-style dining freeing your time to make it even easier to stay active, engaged, and connected. 

Learn more about Vitality Living’s Vivid Life programs. Or find a Vitality Living community near you today to schedule a tour. 

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While Texas is home to a lot of great sources of state pride, the truth is that when it comes to assisted living options for older adults, in many regions, the pickings are pretty slim.

Nursing homes in particular, while very different from assisted living, have a struggling reputation in Texas. In 11 states, 40 percent or more of nursing homes get the two lowest ratings in an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Texas ranks especially low, with the highest percentage of one- and two-star homes in the country. In fact, 51 percent of nursing homes in the state rate one or two stars.

Download The Complete Guide to Choosing Between Senior Living Options

But there is a “glass half full” view to this story. While it’s important to understand why Texas nursing homes rate so low, that understanding can be the start of something new, a chance to reevaluate the landscape of senior communities and explore some of the positive and invigorated options that are emerging.

Lay of the Land

It’s worth noting that Texas is not alone in occupying the bottom rungs of the nursing home rating scale. Louisiana follows close behind at 49 percent for one or two stars, with Oklahoma, Georgia, and West Virginia tied at 46 percent. Other states with at least 40 percent of homes ranked in the bottom tiers are North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.

Rankings take into account a range of factors. Variables may include government inspections, staffing levels, and self-reported quality metrics (for example, the percentage of residents who develop bed sores or who are injured in falls). While the nursing home industry is skeptical of the ratings, consumer groups say they at least represent a solid starting point for evaluating a community of interest.

Why do Texas nursing homes consistently rank so low? There are a number of reasons for the deficit, including a shortfall in Medicaid funding and alleged understaffing by nursing home operators.

At the same time, the state does register some points in the plus column when it comes to senior living options. In particular, Texas ranks high in terms of the availability of information on senior housing.

While this is a positive sign, consumer advocates say that the kind of information available in government records and reports can only be a starting point. When it comes time to consider a new lifestyle option, it is critical that older folks and their adult children visit prospective communities in person. That’s because the world of senior living is changing, and today there are more options than ever to consider.

The Evolution of Choices for Older Adults

For Texans considering their options, it’s important to realize that nursing homes are not the only residential option available. Assisted living has come into its own in recent years, bringing with it a broader range of options. Assisted living communities still provide the full gamut of medical care but, at the same time, also often have more of a focus on the living environment. While nursing homes are federally regulated and have to fit into a specific mold, assisted living regulations vary by state and there is more flexibility to create environments that are suited to helping older adults age successfully.

Seniors who are still independent and active may turn to assisted living for a number of creative and life-affirming options. Many of these communities strive to make enrichment an integral part of the communal experience, seeking to empower older adults with classes, activities, and a range of participatory opportunities.

Today’s assisted living is a far cry from the stereotypical “home” setting, so fraught with negative connotations. As Texas works to reinvent its senior living landscape, assisted living offers a model that is rich with potential. For those seeking music, art, culinary crafts, or other creative outlets, assisted living recognizes the need for thoughtful expression and vibrant interactions.

Most significantly, the rise of assisted living in Texas means that older adults have a greater range of options than ever before. Decades of low rankings on the nursing home scale have discouraged some in the region from pursuing new opportunities for community living. The fact is, those opportunities are out there.

It’s important to recognize that not every community will be a fit for every person. Each senior living experience is unique. Older adults and their children should explore the options together, in order to glean a true and useful understanding of the changing senior living landscape that exists in Texas today.

Looking for something different? Vitality Court in Victoria, Texas was named Best Senior Living Facility and Best Assisted Living. Explore our senior living communities in Texas by clicking here.

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