Resources: Tips for Healthy Aging at Hebrew SeniorLife

How to Live in an Optimal Environment

Optimal Living Environment: The idea behind the design

Mrs. M. is a vigorous 65-year-old woman. She is a competitive force on the tennis court, is involved in the civic life of her community and, in her quiet moments, enjoys a good book. She wants to continue to pursue her passions and remain involved in an active community, but would like to eliminate the responsibilities that go along with home ownership. She and her husband yearn for a more carefree, leisurely lifestyle.
Mr. S. is 80 years old. He retired 15 years ago, and his wife recently passed away. His children describe him as "sharp as a tack," but they are concerned about how he is getting along. He suffers from several chronic diseases common in adults his age and must watch his diet and exercise, as well as take medications and visit his physician regularly. He could benefit from the social support of other seniors, access to wellness programs that would help him manage his illnesses, and housekeeping and transportation services.

Mrs. R. is 95 and quite frail. She suffers from cognitive decline and heart disease, and needs round-the-clock medical care. She is the matriarch of a close-knit and devoted family. They want to ensure that she is comfortable, her dignity is preserved and that she receives good medical care in a stimulating environment.

All three of these individuals require very different kinds of support. And, all three deserve an environment that provides the best quality of life possible. The housing options offered by Hebrew SeniorLife are built on a model of care called "Optimal Living Environment," or "OLE." This approach is grounded in the belief that the quality of an individual's life is not defined by functional ability, but by the environment that responds to his or her needs and aspirations.

The word Optimal is a superlative term signifying the "best possible." It is also a relative term. Every person's optimal situation is unique to that individual. Hebrew SeniorLife's housing and care services reflect the best options possible to meet any given individual's goals for care and/or housing requirements.

Every stage of life is ripe with possibilities to learn and teach. Living within the context of OLE means to live life to its fullest and flourish with age or illness. Living means focusing on what is possible, not on the limitations associated with disability.

The Environment ultimately makes Hebrew SeniorLife's commitment to optimal living possible. All HSL housing and care sites are designed to provide a community of support. This includes appropriate medical and psychosocial care that encourages involvement from providers, residents and families to meet individually prescribed programs for care.

The newest addition to Hebrew SeniorLife is NewBridge on the Charles. Mrs. M., Mr. S. and Mrs. R. could all live there and flourish.

"NewBridge is where care, a philosophy of wellness, and innovation intersect," says Judy Girouard, vice president of Clinical Development.  "We will provide a campus for our members that will enable them to redefine aging.  With clever design, up-to-the-minute technology, coupled with HSL's demonstrated ability to provide outstanding care and services to seniors, we think we have a home run!"

NewBridge on the Charles will bring together individuals across generations and at all levels of functional ability, offering something for everyone. The individual cottage homes or villas will be well-suited to seniors who are independent and active. The apartments may be desirable to those who feel more comfortable with neighbors and services close by. A health center will meet the needs of those who require assisted living or nursing care. And, everyone will have opportunity to take part in multigenerational programs.

All of these choices will offer an Optimal Living Environment tailored to meet the individual needs of the residents who will live there. It could be argued that, indeed, NewBridge on the Charles will be the optimal Optimal Living Environment.  

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