A Day in the Life of a Sunrise Senior Living Resident

Sunrise Senior Living  |  December 11, 2020
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Meet Dorothy…

Dorothy is an 83-year-old New Jersey native who raised three children in the home she shared with her husband, James, for nearly 50 years. In her late seventies, Dorothy was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease after James noticed what doctors later explained were “behavioral expressions,” resulting from Alzheimer’s. She had begun asking James if she could see her mother, who had been deceased for many years, and became increasingly anxious or fearful in certain situations. When James passed away, Dorothy’s son knew her condition had progressed to the point where she could not live alone, but wasn’t quite ready for her to make the move to senior living, so Dorothy moved in with him and his family.

Dorothy’s memory loss and behavioral expressions eventually became too difficult for her son and his wife to manage, especially with their two young children in the home, so she moved into the Reminiscence neighborhood of a nearby Sunrise community. Recently, Dorothy’s community was impacted by COVID-19. Residents are quarantining in their suites, and visits are limited to those who are absolutely essential, for at least the next two weeks. Here is what a typical day may look like for Dorothy – our fictional Sunrise resident – while her community is in this Restricted Operations Phase.

Important: All team members who interact with Dorothy throughout the day, including those serving food/drinks or providing supplies for activities, are wearing appropriate personal protective equipment and residents are also wearing masks, as tolerated, when receiving care. While Dorothy is a fictional resident, the care, programming and services described in this article are representative of many of our residents and the activities they enjoy at their respective Sunrise community.

Dorothy’s Day – Wednesday, December 2nd

6:30 a.m. – Personal Care & Morning Activities

Dorothy’s designated care manager, Jasmine, knows Dorothy is an early riser, and arrives at Dorothy’s suite each morning to assist her in getting out of bed, if she hasn’t already. Jasmine is wearing a mask and face shield due to COVID-19 precautions, so she always knocks, introduces herself, and makes sure Dorothy recognizes her before she enters. Jasmine opens the curtains to let the sunshine in and provides morning personal care, including helping Dorothy to get dressed and ready for the day. Dorothy also wears a mask during Jasmine’s visit.

When quarantine measures were put in place, the community purchased CD players for each resident’s room. Jasmine plays Dorothy’s favorite Elvis Presley album, which brings back memories of Dorothy’s youth and early days with her husband. The care managers have found that reminiscing is very therapeutic, and Dorothy loves telling stories of her and James’ trips to the beach and nights out on the town in New York City. Jasmine and Dorothy also do some stretching and yoga before the morning beverage cart stops by Dorothy’s suite. She is served a cup of tea, along with the Daily Chronicles—a mini newspaper for seniors with historical happenings, famous birthdays, trivia, and other fun facts.

8:30 a.m. – Breakfast

For the health and safety of residents at the community, Dorothy and her neighbors are being served meals in their rooms. A Sunrise team member stops at Dorothy’s suite with coffee, oatmeal with brown sugar and raisins, and fresh fruit. Some residents need additional support with dining, but Dorothy is still independent during meals. She enjoys eating breakfast with her roommate, Gloria, from opposite ends of the common space that adjoins their suites.

9:30 a.m. – Morning Suite Stops

The engagement cart makes suite stops to residents with several options for morning activities. Dorothy chooses supplies to make a mosaic picture frame and Teresa, one of the community’s life enrichment managers, visits Dorothy in her suite to assist with the project. Once they’ve finished, they place one of Dorothy’s family photos in the frame, and Teresa posts a picture of the project to the SMILE Family Engagement app, so Dorothy’s son can see her morning activity.

11:30 a.m. – Virtual Visit with Family

Right now, the community is only allowing essential visitors, so Dorothy’s family has been scheduling virtual visits via Skype or FaceTime to stay connected. The community’s director of sales, Julian, sets up a sanitized iPad in Dorothy’s room and initiates the call between her and her son and daughter-in-law. Julian gives everyone their privacy, but he stays within earshot in case the conversation slows and he realizes Dorothy might be having trouble hearing or responding to family’s questions.

When the visit is over, Julian sanitizes the iPad for the next resident to use and reminds Dorothy that she has a box filled with notes and pictures that her son dropped off at the community. Dorothy enjoys flipping through these each day to keep memories of her family fresh in her mind.

12:30 p.m. – Lunch

The lunch cart stops at Dorothy’s suite, and she is served her selection of minestrone soup and roast chicken with vegetables. After lunch, she rests for a bit before her afternoon activities.

1:30 p.m. Afternoon 1:1 Programming

The hydration cart, stocked with water, sparkling water, tea, and juice, makes a stop at Dorothy’s suite to help ensure she’s properly hydrated. Jasmine also returns to Dorothy’s suite for 1:1 personalized programming. Dorothy grew up in a Catholic family and regularly attended church services, so Jasmine will sometimes find a religious service on the community iPad for them to watch together, or they’ll recite the Rosary. Today, Jasmine is reading Dorothy passages from the Bible.

Dorothy loves nature photos, so Jasmine leaves behind a sanitized plastic bag with a few adult coloring book pages and colored pencils for later in the day. Jasmine has noticed that a relaxing activity helps to alleviate some of the anxiety Dorothy experiences during the late afternoon hours, and this is noted in Dorothy’s care plan.

2:30 p.m. – Afternoon Social Cart

The social cart makes its way around the community each afternoon with themed music, beverages, and snacks. Yesterday, residents listened to songs from a mariachi band while being served margaritas, chips, and salsa for Taco Tuesday. Today’s theme is Wednesday Wine & Cheese. Dorothy chooses a glass of Cabernet with a few snacks and watches some television in her room.

3:30 p.m. – Telehealth Appointment

Once a month, the community’s resident care director, Sandra, consults with Dorothy’s primary care physician. Dorothy’s doctor has seen a decline in some of his patients with Alzheimer’s since the onset of COVID-19 and is particularly looking out for changes in Dorothy’s speech, cognition, and general disposition. Sandra shares notes from the Sunrise team about their interactions with Dorothy, all of which are logged in Sunrise CareConnect, and together they brainstorm about additional activities that may help keep Dorothy’s mind sharp while she is quarantining in her suite.

Sandra shares an update with Dorothy’s son later that afternoon. While he isn’t able to see his mom right now, he is comforted that there is a team of professionals working together to make sure she is receiving personalized care and support during this time. After the appointment, Dorothy finishes her art activity, and the team posts a photo of her artwork to the SMILE app so her family can see her afternoon activity.

5:30 p.m. – Dinner

Many seniors with memory loss—Dorothy included—demonstrate behavioral expressions such as increased confusion, anxiety, or the need to pace or walk about as the sunlight begins to fade, so a Sunrise team member walks the halls of the Reminiscence neighborhood in case anyone needs extra support during the early evening hours. For dinner, Dorothy is served roasted red pepper soup, a steak and blue cheese salad, and her favorite dessert, apple crisp.

7:30 p.m. – Personal Care & Evening Activities

Dorothy is typically tired and ready for bed between 8- 8:30 p.m., so Ana, another care manager in the community, visits Dorothy’s suite at 7:30 PM. Ana assists Dorothy with bathing and dressing for bed, puts on some relaxing music in her suite, and gives Dorothy a manicure and hand massage, using lavender-scented lotion, while they talk about their days.

8:00 p.m. – Evening Snack & Bedtime

The snack and beverage cart makes another stop to help ensure Dorothy is nourished and hydrated before she goes to bed. Particularly in Reminiscence, some residents have been waking in the middle of the night during this quarantining period, so Sunrise team members are close by in case they need to provide emotional support for a resident who may not understand the need to remain in his or her suite. The community team has noticed that a small snack and warm beverage, along with some quiet conversation, is all most residents need before they return to their rooms and fall back to sleep.