How do you express your creativity? What brings you spiritual fulfillment? If you could choose to go anywhere in a car, where would you go?
These are just some of the questions residents are asked when they arrive at Highgate Senior Living. The purpose? To help the team members and care partners understand what brings meaning to each resident’s day.
The staff elicits ideas and information that allows them to plan programming designed for residents to continue to live a life of purpose.
“Life at Highgate is full of choices,” says Howard N. Addison, president and CEO of Highgate. “We make it our business to find out the individual preferences of our residents, who have the freedom and flexibility to live a life that is truly their own.”
The secret to living well is engagement. Dozens of studies have shown that seniors with a sense of purpose in life are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairment, disabilities, heart attacks or strokes, and more likely to live longer than people without this kind of underlying motivation.
At Highgate, part of putting this into practice is helping residents stay mentally, physically, socially, and spiritually engaged. They are encouraged to be open to new experiences, make new friends, and learn new skills through Purposeful Living projects.
Here’s a look at three Purposeful Living projects that residents at Highgate have participated in the past few months.
Creating Blankets for Local Nonprofits
At Highgate at Yakima, the residents wanted to do something philanthropic, so Life Enhancement Programming Manager Angie Larrabee planned a Purposeful Living project that both assisted living and memory care residents could participate in: creating colorful fleece blankets for local nonprofits.
“We originally made blankets to donate to our local Union Gospel Mission and Rod’s House, a place for homeless teens to come and get supplies needed,” Larrabee says.
“The residents loved it so much that we chose to make more to keep in our van, so they stay nice and cozy on our scenic drives. We also made some for baby shower gifts. The residents really enjoy participating because they know the ‘why’ behind it.”
Crossing Things Off Bucket Lists
At Highgate at Vancouver, there’s Bingo, sing-alongs, and exercise. But for more adventurous residents — residents looking to try something new and residents who have that one thing on their bucket list they still haven’t marked off — there’s a whole lot more.
Recently, Executive Director Melanie Danelson took some residents zip-lining.
One resident really wanted to go, but her two daughters discouraged her because they were worried she might get hurt.
“She told them OK, but then the day we were going, she asked if she could just ride along,” Danelson recalls. “When we got there, she turned to me and said, ‘Those kids can’t tell me what to do. I want to go zip-lining!’ I thought, ‘Oh, no, her daughters are going to kill me.’”
That’s when Vice President of Sales Adam Bryan chimed in: “She can decide if she wants to go or not,” he said.
So she jumped.
“She loved it and couldn’t wait to tell all the other residents about it when she got back to the community,” Danelson says.
Making Art — and Friends — in Paint N Pour Classes
At Highgate at Bozeman, the Paint N Pour art classes have not only led to newfound interests and passions but also new friendships.
When Dan first started attending Paint N Pour, he didn’t think he could paint. But once he got involved, he never missed a class.
“His paintings were quite good, and he even gave his wife a framed painting of poppies for her birthday, like those they used to see in Southern California when they lived there,” Tiffany Van Heel says. “It became a new passion for him.”
Shirley and AJ became good friends through Paint N Pour classes, sign language class, memoir writing class, and over glasses of wine at happy hour. Van Heel says. “At Highgate’s Senior Prom during Active Aging Week, they were crowned king and queen of the prom.”
Other Purposeful Living projects include knitting purple caps to go home with parents at the birth of their baby to raise awareness for Shaken Baby Syndrome Prevention, doing challenging 3D puzzles, producing a vintage fashion show, and creating wedding photo albums.
Live a Life of Purpose
Whether it’s volunteering, traveling, creating, gardening, exercising, or something else, the Life Enhancement Coordinators at Highgate are there to connect each new resident with other residents, as well as events and activities that have purpose and meaning.
“We spend a lot of time, energy, and effort talking about, thinking about, and programming to allow residents to continue to live a life of purpose each day,” says Marjorie Todd, COO at Highgate Senior Living. “Our in-depth personal interviews with each resident allow us to identify what it is that really makes them feel valuable and important and needed. Every thread of our programming calendar is rooted in what gives each resident a sense of purpose.”
Want to learn more about Highgate’s unique approach? Schedule a tour and read our eBook Each Day to the Fullest.