Atria health fair emphasizes benefits of assisted living

Published on Sunday, 1 July 2018 21:10


FARMINGTON - “I tell people we are like a cruise that doesn’t move,” said Frank Rende, community sales director at Atria Farmington.

The senior living facility held its first “Wise & Well” Health Fair Saturday. “It’s an opportunity for us to have people come visit our community, and we have so many people and resources we use in the community it gives them the chance to showcase their services, too,” Rende said.

Vendors on hand for the fair included CT Thermography; Encompass Health, which provides physical therapy at Atria; Forever Fit, which runs the twice daily exercise classes; Walmart, which provided immunizations and blood pressure checks that day; Seasons Hospice & Palliative Care; Visiting Angels; and more.

Visitors also got to see the facility’s daily activity schedule, which that day included gin rummy in the cafe, morning and afternoon fitness classes, bingo, a meeting of the gardening club, “peaceful meditation,” a social hour, an evening stroll, and then movie night and popcorn.

During the health fair, the facility’s movie theater featured several speakers answering questions about life there.

Lisa Navarra talked about “Encouraging the Move to Assisted Living,” with a group of about 20 people, including current residents, potential residents, and people who were checking it out for their parents.

Navarra is a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist. “I’m not employed by Atria,” she said. “I come in on Thursdays. I run a monthly support group here, where we talk about grief and loss and change and adjustment, and I also do individual psychotherapy.”

She encouraged those attending her talk to discuss issues like the difficulty for the elderly in downsizing their lives, giving up their longtime homes and independence to move into a smaller, more regulated place.

However, there are many positive sides to making the move, such as not having to worry about maintaining houses and lawns, preparing meals, keeping up social ties, or driving around to do errands, she noted.

It’s a safe living environment here, it’s handicapped accessible, there are activities, and housekeeping is provided, she said.

Caregivers’ stress can be a real issue, she said. “I would meet with the clients and then with their children, who were usually the caregivers. Caregivers have a high level of stress, and what I had found was it complicates the relationship with them and the elderly person. When somebody moves into a facility, it’s an improvement in the relationship. The child isn’t as stressed out, they can sit and enjoy a meal with the parent.”

There is a wide spectrum of attitudes about assisted living residents, Navarra continued. “I talk to people who love it here, who feel such a sense of relief that everything is taken care of for you. Then there’s the other extreme. It can be a really big loss for people, losing their home and what it represents. When you’re in your home you’re the boss, and when you come here there are rules to follow.”

A couple of residents noted that they are supposed to wear a “lifeline” emergency alert button on a neck lanyard, but some find it cumbersome. One woman said she would prefer to wear a wrist version or keep it in her purse.

“But it’s very good to have,” another woman added. “My husband fell a couple of weeks ago. I just pushed the button and somebody came. If I were home I would be struggling trying to get help.”

There was a general consensus among the residents present that the staff is very caring and patient.

“I brought my mother here for a visit and the staff was really nice,” one woman said. “It must be contagious, because everybody living here is really friendly. My mother was impressed because she is having a hard time about leaving her home.”

Constance LaSala, who is “madam president” of the residents council, agreed. Anyone can bring up any issue at the council meetings, she said. “Then I take it to the staff and we discuss it. Nine out of 10 times what we want has been approved.”

For instance, the seats in the movie theater are very large and comfortable but they take up a lot of space, she said. “A lot more residents are coming to the theater to see movies so I’m working with the staff to getting theater seating. They’re really open and patient.”

People also agreed the food is good, the chefs will accommodate dietary needs, and if you don’t like what’s on the menu that day you can get a hamburger or something else.

Navarra noted that some assisted living facilities have designated meal times, but at Atria Farmington it’s open seating from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Atria Farmington is located at 111 Scott Swamp Road. For more information, call 860-284-0505 or visit

Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or

Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol, General News on Sunday, 1 July 2018 21:10. Updated: Sunday, 1 July 2018 21:13.