Aging in place is a concept that allows people to remain in their homes as they age, but wouldn’t a concept that helps people age as actively and successfully as possible be more attractive for most seniors?
That’s precisely what Revel Rancharrah promotes at its independent senior living community in Reno — a lifestyle that is about growth and independence, customized to each individual’s wants and needs.
“Typically, when someone is looking into a senior living community they’re looking at places that have everything they need through the end of life. We focus on how we can continue to support residents to live their fullest lives and best lives now,” said Catherine Owens, regional sales specialist for Revel Communities. “We are focused on successful aging — putting into place the things people need to continue to age well.”
Residents are in charge
The schedule of activities and events at Revel Rancharrah isn’t your standard, run-of-the-mill senior itinerary. From boat cruises on Lake Tahoe to whitewater rafting to hot air balloon rides, the residents determine what they want to do while the Revel Rancharrah team members help make it happen.
The only reason the residents play bingo is because the residents said they want to play bingo, said Mark Schulz, executive director at Revel Rancharrah. Even then, bingo events at Revel Rancharrah weren’t going to look like those you’d find at a senior center. Here, it’s wine bingo combined with trivia to provide a more social, interactive experience.
“The events we do are the things the residents want to do and lead themselves,” Schulz said.
When the Green Thumb Club works on their gardening projects, the Revel Rancharrah team members stay out of the way.
“I was told specifically by the Green Thumb Club, ‘don’t touch our water and don’t touch our boxes — we will manage it,’” recalls Schulz. “This community is run by the residents.”
Living your best life now
Too often, people don’t think about senior living lifestyles for themselves or their aging parents until there’s a problem or challenge to overcome. Schulz said the residents who thrive at Revel Rancharrah are those who sought a fulfilling senior living experience long before they needed senior care.
“If you think you don’t need this type of lifestyle, when you do it’s too late and you’ll miss out on the independent part,” he said. “This is a choice of a way to live, not because you have to or because you need it. This is a want.”
The independent living model means residents are truly independent. Residents who need care can set up home health care services, and those who need more extensive care might find that an assisted living community would be a better fit.
“We have meals and we have housekeeping — those are amenities that are just nice to have,” Schulz said. “We aren’t going around checking up on you.”
One natural benefit of living in a community with so many close friends is that they’ll keep an eye on each other. Schulz said that if one resident hasn’t come out of their apartment in a day, he’ll have three other residents tell him about it.
“And if they see someone sitting by themselves, they always get invited over to sit at one of the community tables,” he said.
More independence than “aging in place”
Often, seniors aging at home are in fact less independent than if they were to live in a senior living community. At home, seniors become dependent on others for driving, errands, doctor appointments and social experiences.
“At Revel Rancharrah, we provide transportation and our residents actually have more independence because they can go out whenever they want,” Owens said.
When looking at independent senior living communities, it’s important to look at not just the amenities, but also the quality, flexibility and how those amenities are delivered. That’s what’s going to give someone their day-to-day satisfaction, she said.
“Many communities have set meal times and set menus. We have anytime dining, and it’s made-to-order,” Owens said. “What are you in the mood for — a burger and beer at the pub, or grilled salmon out on the patio?”
Adjustments during the pandemic
Because Revel Rancharrah is an independent living community, the impacts of COVID-19 on daily life haven’t been as disruptive as in other senior living models. Schulz said residents are taking advantage of senior hour at local stores for grocery trips, and residents are back to eating in the community’s restaurants. They can leave to visit family members, of course, but are reminded of safety protocols to reduce the risk of exposure. And instead of going out to local restaurants, residents are enjoying outdoor picnics instead.
“We have not had a case yet I think because of the behaviors and decisions our residents are making,” Schulz said. “Everyone is policing themselves — they know they don’t want to end up under strict quarantine.”