Finding Diversity in Assisted Living
Our assisted living and memory care communities are highly diverse—both in the people we serve and the staff who care for them. Our residents are from different religions, cultures, nationalities, and lifestyles. And our staff in our communities come from over 50 countries that span the globe. The languages spoken, the backgrounds, traditions, and cultural norms are a melting pot within our walls. We believe that there is an excellent value from a diverse population who can learn from each other.
Culture can be a significant way in which someone defines who they are as an individual. Therefore, at Aegis Living, we celebrate the differences that make up our communities. There are a variety of ways that we do this daily through activities, excursions, recreational programming, lectures, crafts, and celebrations. Seasonal holidays or heritage months, in particular, are an excellent opportunity to share and experience a culture. Days leading up to the holiday, for example, Chinese New Year, or Shabbat, residents make traditional decorations, research the country of origin, share stories about their travels, share details about their culture in a discussion activity, or host cultural entertainment, music, or dancing. Our chef will make special treats or host a dinner with food from a specific country or region. Life Enrichment Directors will use these holidays to celebrate and honor individuals within the community and encourage them to share their stories and experiences.
These holidays become an immersive cultural experience that can be enriched by authentic storytelling and sharing of traditions by our residents and staff. By exposing our residents and staff to elements and traditions of both their own culture and others, we promote a sense of belonging in the community.
A Community of Respect
Our philosophy at Aegis Living is to treat our residents as if they are part of our own family. This love and compassionate care for our residents and their families is what sets us apart. This means that our homes are welcoming of all people—no matter their race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, or lifestyle. We respect our residents and in fact, celebrate their stories.
In 2017, Aegis Living created an original collection of short stories in film sharing our love of diversity. This project was called the Wisdom Diaries. We believe that diversity is a key part of the shared human experience. Sharing our unique stories can lead to empathy and a stronger sense of community. We not only respect our differences but also identify our similarities and appreciate how our staff and residents are alike. We believe the more we learn about each other, the wiser we become.
In the past, some LGBTQ seniors who moved into traditional senior housing felt forced back into the closet after years of living openly. They didn’t want to be discriminated and often would hide their orientation when moving into an assisted living community. But with the surge of baby boomers who are reaching retirement age, acceptance of diversity and lifestyles is expected by this enlightened generation.
According to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, it is estimated that nearly three million LGBTQ seniors (65 years and over) live in the United States. As baby boomers age, this number will double by 2030. This is a clear signal that there is a demand for LGBTQ-friendly senior housing options. The industry in some cases is building specific communities for LGBTQ seniors where residents can live without prejudice and instantly feel comfortable. But any community can be LGBTQ-friendly if openness and diversity are valued by the company and leadership. All senior housing options should offer welcoming homes and communities that are discrimination-free and supportive.
Aegis Living opened their first Chinese culturally-authentic community in Fremont, California with massive success in 2001. Opening under the brand name of Aegis Gardens, this unique community has had a waiting list for apartments. In 2018, Aegis Gardensopened a second location in Newcastle, Washington. Besides the carefully curated interior and exterior décor, applying Feng Shui principles, chef-prepared Chinese cuisine, and engaging traditional activities, the multilingual care staff ensures that residents are clearly understood and able to express their needs. Some seniors feel comforted when surrounded by familiar sights, sounds, and tastes of home.
At one time, it was unheard of that an immigrant family would move their aged parent into an assisted living or memory care community. Families often feel conflicted and guilty when the concept of moving a parent into an assisted living or memory care community clashes with their cultural expectations. But this attitude is clearly changing as more culturally-authentic communities open for niche markets.
Every senior housing option should be inclusive and welcoming to all seniors. We encourage you to shop around for a community that is comfortable for your parent. Tour the community to meet the staff, other residents, and families. Taste the food, ask direct questions, and observe how residents spend their days. This is the best way to find the right home for your loved one where they feel comfortable, safe and able to continue to live their fullest life.