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 Lakeshore Senior Living in St. Clair Shores offers a range of activities for residents, including a fitness center.

Lakeshore Senior Living in St. Clair Shores offers a range of activities for residents, including a fitness center.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Senior living facilities focus on independence, community vibe

By: Joshua Gordon | C&G Newspapers | Published February 14, 2018

 Royal Oak House puts a focus on community interactions by scheduling a range of activities, having common areas, and offering up all meals and snacks as part of a resident’s rent.

Royal Oak House puts a focus on community interactions by scheduling a range of activities, having common areas, and offering up all meals and snacks as part of a resident’s rent.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

 Lakeshore Senior Living offers residents several ways to have meals, including kitchens in their apartments, a dining area and this pub in the independent living wing.

Lakeshore Senior Living offers residents several ways to have meals, including kitchens in their apartments, a dining area and this pub in the independent living wing.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 Royal Oak House has private bedrooms and bathrooms for residents, putting more of a focus on community interactions between residents.

Royal Oak House has private bedrooms and bathrooms for residents, putting more of a focus on community interactions between residents.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

METRO DETROIT — When seniors move into Lakeshore Senior Living, the team there wants the residents to feel like they have a place of their own, where they can entertain and invite over friends and family.

When the St. Clair Shores-based senior living facility started welcoming residents at the beginning of 2018, it provided 118 independent living apartments, complete with a bedroom, a bathroom, living space and a full kitchen with appliances.

For residents who don’t want the hassle of having to cook and clean up a kitchen, Lakeshore also offers all meals included in the rent, with servers and cooks in the first-floor dining room.

“One of our residents moved in and said it feels like living on a cruise ship, which is not a bad thing to hear,” said Rachel Nagorsen, Lakeshore’s sales and marketing manager. “This is an easier way of living for the seniors, where they can spend the day doing what they want to do instead of what they have to do.”

Senior living facilities are finding new ways to bring in seniors who need some assistance, but they are not skimping on the care that brought the residents to a facility in the first place. A focus on independence, community living and keeping the mind active are top priorities for employees and seniors.

With seniors always hesitant to leave the comfort of their own home, senior living facilities have had to adapt to provide an environment suitable to aging in place. Many seniors still want the independence of taking care of themselves, and not to feel like they are in a hospital, so facilities have trended more toward the fully developed apartments.

And as opposed to old ways at facilities, when seniors would go from their room to a cafeteria and back again, new facilities aim to offer more of a community feel like they would have had in a neighborhood and activities to keep them stimulated.

Lakeshore broke ground in August 2016 on the grounds of a former church and school. As of the beginning of February, the facility was about 50 percent rented, with new residents moving in all the time.

All 118 of the independent living apartments are for single occupancy, but there is the potential to double up for couples or other situations. There are also 22 memory care community apartments.

Nagorsen said there was a conscious focus on making the apartments open and livable, but not overwhelming in size.

Like a lot of new senior living facilities, Lakeshore is made up of a majority of local people — St. Clair Shores and Grosse Pointe community residents who want to age in place. Nagorsen said people want to stay close to the places they know while getting assistance when needed.

While the facility will take seniors at any stage of their life, Nagorsen said they like to encourage people to move in when they are still independent.

“The best time to move into an independent community like this is when you are still somewhat independent, if not completely,” she said. “When you are older, it is not always easy to get out and do things and have that contact with other people. Being social improves your health and overall quality of life.”

In Royal Oak, Royal Oak House is slated to open within the next few weeks, pending a state permit inspection.

At Royal Oak House, Executive Director Karen DeLaFlor said they want to focus on community living. The residents will have private rooms and bathrooms, but no kitchen.

Like Lakeshore, all meals are included, and DeLaFlor said that once residents start moving in, she hopes to create a food committee to make sure residents are getting the meals and snacks they enjoy.

Royal Oak House has 57 total rooms, with 24 of them for memory care. DeLaFlor noted that the facility has its own staff and doesn’t work with a third-party service for care. There will be a nurse on staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“I like to train my own staff and know what my staff is doing and teach them,” DeLaFlor said. “If you have different staff coming in and out of the building, it is harder to manage what they are doing with residents. This way, the staff has the same clients and can offer a continuity of care.”

With the rooms being smaller than at some facilities, DeLaFlor said the focus is on community and interactions. Royal Oak House will offer a handful of activities, from playing cards to educational seminars.

That extends to the memory care program, which is a structured-day program based on the resident’s cognitive level. The program will have group activities, attentive care and special entertainment, including yoga, art therapy and music.

“I firmly believe (that) for quality of life, activities are just as important as nursing,” DeLaFlor said. “Eating breakfast and going to your room, that is not a quality of life I would want to live. We want people to come in and learn about things and have snacks, and we want to take them on activities, such as a riverboat tour.”

Lakeshore also offers a range of activities, including painting and birthday parties, but Nagorsen said they also want to teach seniors about technology. The facility offers one-on-one assistance with technology, from setting up an email address to getting on Facebook for interacting with family.

Overall, both Nagorsen and DeLaFlor said their facilities are structured to offer seniors more than just medical care, and they want residents to feel at home when they make the decision to move into these facilities.

“We encourage people to come and see it and experience a little bit for themselves before jumping to a conclusion about what it is about,” Nagorsen said.