12 Ways to Celebrate National Assisted Living Week (NALW)

The importance of fostering a supportive and engaging environment for seniors cannot be overstated. National Assisted Living Week, an annual observance that takes place between September 10 – 16 this year, presents a wonderful opportunity to celebrate and honor the elderly residents and workers of assisted living communities across the nation. 

Established by the National Center for Assisted Living in 1995, this weeklong celebration has blossomed into a unique educational opportunity for residents, families, staff, volunteers, and local communities to learn more about this segment of long term care.

This week serves as a reminder to cherish the wisdom and experiences of our senior population while highlighting the essential work that employees at these assisted living centers do to provide care, companionship, and a sense of belonging. Read on to learn meaningful ways you can celebrate National Assisted Living Week to make it a memorable experience for residents, staff, and families alike.

Embrace the theme

Every great celebration starts with a theme, and National Assisted Living Week is no exception. This year, the theme is “Season of Reflection”. You could embrace this theme at your assisted living community by designating days during this week to celebrate the residents. Whether it’s a ‘Decades Day,’ where residents can dress up in attire from their favorite era, or a ‘Cultural Celebration’ that highlights the diverse backgrounds of residents, these events add a fun and unifying element to the festivities.

Connect with the community 

Invite local schools, musical groups, and artists to perform at your assisted living center. Intergenerational activities can be particularly heartwarming, as they bring together residents and younger generations. Organize art exhibitions, poetry readings, or even a mini talent show that showcases the unique talents of your residents and workers.

Storytelling sessions 

Seniors possess a wealth of life experiences and stories that deserve to be shared. Host storytelling sessions where residents can recount their personal histories, providing younger generations with valuable insights into the past. These sessions not only help preserve the community’s collective memory but also strengthen the bonds between residents and their caretakers. Since the theme this year encourages participants to pause and reflect, this is the perfect opportunity to allow genuine connections to flourish with tales of past times.

Wellness workshops 

Promote health and well-being by organizing wellness workshops and activities for both your patients and your workers. From gentle yoga and meditation sessions to informative talks on nutrition and healthy living, these workshops empower attendees to prioritize their physical and mental health. As you know, keeping your patients mobile is a priority — but you can also use these workshops to encourage your staff to take care of themselves physically and mentally to avoid the dreaded burnout plaguing workers of the healthcare industry.

Family and friends day 

Dedicate a day for families and friends to visit the assisted living community. Plan engaging activities, such as a picnic, games, or even a ‘memory lane’ where residents can share cherished memories with their loved ones. This day shouldn’t be limited to just the families and friends of residents, however. Consider opening your doors to your workers’ networks as well so they can show off their place of employment and allow their loved ones to see all of the hard work they do at the assisted living center to keep patients happy and healthy.

Volunteer opportunities 

Encourage residents and caregivers to engage in acts of kindness by participating in volunteer initiatives. Whether it’s crafting blankets for shelters, assembling care packages for troops, or making toys for animal shelters, these activities give participants a sense of purpose and the joy of giving back. That sense of satisfaction can go a long way, for both your patients and the staff at senior assisted living facilities. 

Interactive workshops 

Collaborate with local artists and craftsmen to host interactive workshops. From painting and pottery to music and dance, these sessions provide your residents and staff with an outlet for self-expression and creativity. These workshops can serve as a stress reliever for your assisted living center’s personnel who have dedicated their lives to caring for others — and could be another tool in your HR strategy to help manage symptoms of burnout.

Outdoor adventures 

Nature has a rejuvenating effect on the mind and body no matter how old you are. Organize outdoor excursions, such as garden parties, nature walks, or visits to nearby parks when the weather is fair. Fresh air and scenic beauty can uplift spirits and provide a change of scenery for residents. Assisted living communities aren’t limited to keeping their patients inside, but do need to be cognizant of weather conditions and air quality when planning outings.

Theme meals 

Infuse the dining experience with excitement by offering theme meals. A Hawaiian luau, a cultural feast, or a retro diner night can make mealtimes more enjoyable and memorable. While we’d suggest staying away from the Jello molds of the 70’s, there’s nothing holding senior assisted living facilities back from holding a meal themed around decades or popular food trends from the past. 

Personal recognition 

Take the time to honor each resident and worker individually. Whether through a photo display of their life achievements or a heartwarming speech during a community event, personal recognition shows that each resident is valued and celebrated. For your staff, you could give awards for employees who have stayed with the company for one year, five years, 10 years, or more. This could motivate workers to stay longer to earn that recognition. You could also choose to distribute awards based on personalities, things staff members are known for, and more. This is the opportunity for leadership at your assisted living center to get creative with how you recognize your teammates, so do what works best for you!

Engage virtually 

In the digital age, it’s essential to include residents who might have limited mobility or health concerns. You can do this by hosting virtual events, such as online games, video calls with family members, or even virtual museum tours. Designate a staff member per event to be in charge of the camera and to monitor the chat. For more extraverted employees, this could be the perfect opportunity to lead virtual attendees on a show of their own via the assisted living center’s feed. 

Express gratitude 

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, remember to express gratitude to the staff members who work tirelessly to ensure the well-being and happiness of the residents. A simple thank-you card or an event focused solely on staff appreciation can go a long way in boosting morale and creating a sense of camaraderie.

National Assisted Living Week serves as a reminder that our elders deserve respect, care, and opportunities for engagement throughout their lives — and to celebrate the healthcare professionals who keep these assisted living communities running smoothly. By participating in this year’s National Assisted Living Week with thoughtfulness and creativity, we not only honor the residents but also your critical employees who care for them each and every day.



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