Understanding Your Options

Luxurious community helps residents maintain independence

Sandy Clark

Most people don’t begin to educate themselves about independent or assisted living communities until they need to. For Sandy Clark, that moment came only after her husband passed away a few years ago.

At that difficult juncture in her life, Sandy moved into a senior living community in Jacksonville. Then, a little more than a year ago, her son went looking for a place that was more amenable to his mother’s active lifestyle and focused on allowing independence while providing a safety net of services without having to move again.

He found it at Heritage Waterside Luxury Senior Living, where chief operating officer Corey Shenk pours 28 years of industry experience into helping families navigate through the often-difficult decision to move into an independent or
assisted living community.

“The initial discussions with those families are seldom, if ever, easy,” Corey empathizes. “They can be a time of concern and uncertainty, but they’re very important, which is why I always begin those discussions with what we
refer to as discovery.

“This is where I sit down with family members and talk about what it is that brought them here. Was there a specific event that occurred? Has there been a change of condition? What created the need to begin a search for a new home?

“It may be that they live alone now and would like some companionship. It may be that someone suffered a bad fall and simply cannot take care of themselves like they used to. Or maybe someone just doesn’t want the
responsibilities of cooking, cleaning, and keeping a home anymore.

“The inquiry usually starts with a family member contacting us and expressing concern for their loved one. A lot of times, the rest of the family lives far away, and because there is no one to check on their parents, they are seeking peace of mind. They want to know their mother or father is safe and taken care of.”

Proactive Approach  

Resort-like amenities keep residents such as Doris Turner, left and May Myer smiling.

If it’s established that an independent or assisted living community is a good fit, Corey will typically take visitors on a walking tour of Heritage Waterside. Along the way, they are welcomed by staff members and current residents who can answer questions about the community and how they like it. The community, the employee culture and the residents are what sell Heritage Waterside. Not a sales pitch.

Located along the Halifax River in Daytona Beach Shores, Heritage Waterside is a luxurious resort-like independent and assisted living community that checks all the boxes regarding the care and comfort seniors are looking for in a retirement home.

“I liken life here to what it’s like living on a cruise ship,” Corey elaborates. “We clean for you. We cook for you. We do your laundry for you, and we’ll provide you with an array of activities. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy life.”

A large part of what makes that possible is Heritage Waterside’s rare and award-
winning proactive approach to providing a “condo-like” home that promotes independence but also offers care services if or when needed. The community’s age-in-place model was created so that residents don’t have to move to a different apartment if their care needs change.

“Most of our community members move in as independent residents,” Corey reports. “They have their own car, and they come and go as they please. But at the same time, we provide them with a safety net should anything change.

“For example, if you move in as an independent resident and later on you need some help, we’ll sit down and have a care plan discussion with you. And if necessary, our wellness team will add services to your program. It’s that simple.

“You don’t have to leave the condominium you chose. Wherever you are, we bring those services to you, whatever they may be. No one wants to lose their independence, and we understand that. That’s why we have created our home a little differently. It’s just another example of why so many love to live at Heritage Waterside and why we stand out from other senior living communities.”

As part of Heritage Waterside’s proactive approach to care, some of those services are offered in what Corey refers to as the community’s “smart apartments,” which means they are specially outfitted to aid residents in their health and well-being.

“Many senior living communities simply react when something happens with one of their residents,” Corey notes. “At Heritage Waterside, we try to stay one step ahead and be proactive. Our apartments are set up to help us
achieve that goal.

“For example, apartments can be equipped with motion sensors that actually learn the residents’ behavior patterns. That way, if something outside of their normal routine occurs, after a couple of hours, the system notifies us so we can check on that person.

“Each resident is also given a watch-like device that they can wear that tracks their heart rate and oxygen level and alerts us and their physician if anything falls or rises into an abnormal level. That device even has a fall detector in it.

“That system can be used anywhere on the property. In addition, our nurse call system has a button that residents can use to call for assistance no matter where they are on the property. Even if they just want someone to escort them back to their apartment, they simply push the button, and we respond.

“In the name of providing continued independence to our residents, we also provide the option of automatic pill dispensers that alert residents when it’s time to take their medications. Each apartment also comes with an
Alexa 10-inch video screen that allows residents to hold video chats with their family members at any time.

“The resident doesn’t even have to know how to operate it. We set it up for them, so it is easy.”

“A Great Place to Live” 

Outside of the apartments, the riverfront offers a relaxing getaway. There’s a restaurant there with indoor and outdoor seating by the river, a veranda where residents and their families can relax and enjoy the view, and a fire pit that offers a cozy spot on cool evenings.

The riverfront and all that it has to offer, Corey says, is one of Heritage Waterside’s greatest amenities. It’s rivaled, though, by the food that’s served throughout the day, not just at the riverfront restaurant, but also throughout the community.

“Food is a big focus here,” Corey relates. “We’re very conscious of the quality of food we prepare. Breakfast is always made to order, and lunch and dinner options abound.

“Those lunch and dinner options are always displayed on a table at the front of the dining room so everybody can see what the primary options are, and if they prefer something else, we can get that for them instead.

“Another thing we do, once a week we treat our residents to an extra nice five-star meal. For example, we recently offered a meal featuring lobster and filet mignon. The residents always enjoy
that, of course.”

Other amenities include a bar where residents can gather for happy hour or listen to live music, a game room, an activity room where daily exercise programs are held, an area devoted to arts and crafts, and a movie theater.

Sandy, 78, lives independently at Heritage Waterside in a two-bedroom apartment, and she greatly appreciates all that the community has to offer.

“Even now, I’m a big walker, and one of the things I love most here is that I can cross two little streets and I’m on the beach, where I can walk for hours,” Sandy details. “I usually walk for a little more than an hour there every day, and I just love it.

“I also love that I have the freedom here to do whatever I want. They have so many activities and games and things that you’re never bored here. The food is great, too, and I just love my apartment. It’s very pretty and just what I need.

“I really have nothing but good things to say about Heritage Waterside. The staff is very attentive and caring, and I’m very thankful that I’m here. Moving here was the best move I’ve made. 
It’s truly a great place to live.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings.
Sandy’s photo by Jordan Pysz. Doris and May photo courtesy of Heritage Waterside. 

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